When he was 42 years old, Tom Kovach "jumped the gorge" - a popular activity for young people at a swimming spot near the campus of Cornell University in Ithaca, New York. (This is not the 240-foot gorge where several students have committed suicide. This is the 35-foot gorge with a waterfall at one end and a small lake at the other end.)
Tom has also written song lyrics and cowboy poetry. One of his poems can be seen on the website of American Cowboy magazine.
In March of 1982, Tom Kovach served on a protection detail for US President Ronald Reagan and stopped a motorcyclist from getting near the motorcade. Secret Service agents questioned the rider for four hours.
Tom Kovach has survived five gang fights, 44 parachute jumps (including a high-speed malfunction), three encounters with loaded weapons at close range, two attempts to run over him with cars, one sniper attack, and one attempted strangulation.
When he was 46 years old and working on a trail ranch, and would stop into a restaurant on the way home from work, patrons would sometimes mistake Tom for cowboy singer Garth Brooks. (That was the inspiration for Tom's all-black portrait photo, to resemble Garth's famous album cover.).
When practicing land-navigation skills for the prestigious Peacekeeper Challenge military competition, Tom led his team through an Alabama swamp -- complete with water moccasins and alligators.
On one parachute jump, the weather was so hot that when Tom passed over a paved surface he gained 50 feet of altitude while trying to land.
One day in 1985, Tom was on a parachute jump load with "Jumpin' Joe" Kittinger -- the man that in 1961, as a captain, set the world freefall altitude and speed records by jumping from a special Air Force balloon at the edge of Earth's atmosphere (102,800 feet above sea level). At the time of Tom's jump with him, Kittinger was a retired colonel that was still cleared to jump from military aircraft.
While in between his two active-duty Air Force enlistments, Tom Kovach worked as a security guard at a defense contractor.
During his career in the Air Force, Staff Sgt. Tom Kovach worked on various occasions with Federal agents of the FBI, ATF, Secret Service and Customs Service - as well as the agents of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI), the USAF equivalent of the better-known NCIS.
As a freelance writer, Tom once interviewed TV producer Gary Johnson ("Doc", "Sue Thomas, F.B.Eye") for a column about positive TV programming. As they got to know each other, it turned out that they had both lived in the same Nashville-area apartment complex (but at different times).
One of Tom's fellow instructors at CAP Ranger School many years later became the topic of a Time magazine cover story.
In 1978, the Air Force began a program called WarSkill. It started as an experiment at only three bases. Tom's base (K.I. Sawyer AFB, now closed, located in Upper Michigan) was the first of those three bases to start the training. Tom was the honor graduate of the Air Force's very first WarSkill class in law enforcement.
While stationed in Korea (Daegu) in 1981, Tom took two college semesters of Korean language. So, he does not speak the "bar talk" that most GIs learn while there; he speaks "real" Korean. To this day, he can still carry on a conversation in Korean, and native speakers say that his delivery is excellent.
Tom once rode in a cattle roundup on an Alabama state prison farm, after a drought had enabled a local rancher's cattle to wander across the river to the prison property.
While stationed in Alabama in the early 1980s, Tom Kovach owned a horse and rode in Civil War cavalry re-enactments. On one occasion, Tom's horse stood and did a 270-degree turn on his back legs, and then went into a full saber charge.
Tom Kovach has an associate's degree in criminal justice and a professional certification as a paralegal.
While stationed in Alabama, Tom Kovach went sport skydiving with Army CWO Lance McElhiney (the founder of the Apache pilot training program) and with Army Reserve Maj. Larry Bagley (then-president of the US Parachute Association).
Tom Kovach is the owner/trainer/agent of his dog, "Braveheart -- The Big Dog". Tom hopes that Braveheart will also have a successful movie career.
When he was younger, Tom owned a total of four German shepherd dogs (at different times). The last one had a 24-inch neck, and was often mistaken for a Military Working Dog.
Tom Kovach did the same job in the Air Force as legendary action-movie star Chuck Norris. In fact, it was Tom that recommended to the Air Force Security Police Association that AFSPA award Norris with an honorary Blue Beret. (Norris left the Air Force before the beret was introduced as a uniform item.) At first, the idea was rejected. But, two years later, in a ceremony at Lackland AFB, Texas, the leaders of AFSPA did award Norris with a beret.
Tom Kovach did not appear in his first movie until he was 51 years old. At age 54, Tom auditioned for a "tough guy" role in a TV pilot movie. At that same age, 54, Charles Bronson made the first of his "Death Wish" movies.
Only a small number of movie personalities have parachuted from military aircraft while serving on active duty. Tom Kovach is a member of this group, which also includes Clint Eastwood, Rod Serling, Tom Harmon (actor, sportscaster, and father of Mark Harmon ) and Dennis Franz. Charles Bronson served as a B-29 tailgunner, but it is unclear if he made any parachute jumps during his service. Tom Selleck served in the Army National Guard, but it is unclear if he made any jumps during his service.
In December of 2009, while on the set of the TV pilot movie "Tough Trade", one of the background actors collapsed in what turned out to be a diabetic shock. Three people quickly responded to help. The first was a background actress named Mary, who turned out to be an off-duty cardiac nurse. The second was Tom Kovach. The third was singer/musician/actor Trace Adkins. Seeing that Mary had the patient well under control, Kovach and Adkins then went outside into the midnight cold to lead the ambulance crew through the maze of lighting equipment, keep people back, etc.
Only 28 days after his birth in New York, Tom Kovach was adopted by a childless couple in Texas. As an adult, Tom tracked down his birth family. He met his mother and two older brothers.
In the lobby after a sold-out performance of "Fiddler on the Roof" (in which Tom had three roles), Tom's high school English and drama teacher (Janet Rose) introduced Tom to her friend Helen Foley -- who had been the English teacher for famed TV writer/producer Rod Serling.
In addition to acting, Tom is also a talent manager. His boutique company manages only current or former military members. Tom's clients include a former Pararescue commando instructor and a combat triple-amputee.
Tom's first marriage lasted from 1978 to 1995 (they had been high school sweethearts; she filed). Tom and his second wife (Lynn) met online in 2001 through a Christian dating service. Tom and Lynn each had one child from before. Both children are now grown and on their own.
Tom's grandmother, Katarina, came to the USA at the age of 15. She grew up in a small village on the border between Ukraine and Slovakia. Her parents put her on a boat to America, after Bolsheviks killed her brother during an uprising.
Tom's father, Frank (born: Frantisek), was one of nine surviving children of Stefan and Katarina Kovach. Frank "Lefty" Kovach was a boxer -- amateur, intramural (in the US Army), Golden Gloves, and professional. He had 21 pro fights -- 19 wins (15 by knockout), one loss and one draw.
Tom's adoptive family is of Rusyn descent (similar to Ukrainian). His birth family is of Italian descent. As a teenager, Tom lived in a "very ethnic" neighborhood, where it was common to hear Rusyn, Polish, Slovak and Ukrainian on the sidewalks. (There were several "onion dome" churches in the neighborhood.) In his forties, Tom lived in another neighborhood that was that way with Italian language and culture. (In late September, that neighborhood gave off the aroma of grapes, because so many families had big grapevines in their yards. Tom's landlord was well-known in the neighborhood for his wine production.).
Tom's official hashtags are #TomKovach and #ExtraRISING.
After his career in the Air Force, Tom worked occasionally for a private investigator, who had been only the second Black state trooper in the State of New York (at the time of his 1962 appointment).
Tom Kovach is also the founder of Blue Beret Marketing.
Tom Kovach has a trademarked drink named after him. He invented it at a locally-owned Italian restaurant in Nashville. The "Tom Kovach" is made of two shots of Drambuie, and one shot of Caravella Limoncello, on the rocks -- and, of course, it is "shaken, not stirred".
When he was 12 years old, growing up in south Texas, one evening, Tom was surprised to see that the admission price for a high school dance had been temporarily increased from fifty cents to "a whole dollar!!". Tom then asked his friends, "And, what kind of name is ZZ Top, anyway??" Three years later, after moving to Upstate NY, Tom went backstage with ZZ Top and told them that story.
Tom Kovach has never been a member of either of the Big Two political parties. Tom leans to the political Right.