The new commander of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group is a veteran naval aviator with Spokane ties.
Rear Adm. Kevin J. “Komrade” Kovacich, 55, took command April 15 of the Norfolk, Va.-based Carrier Strike Group 12, which won international acclaim in 2011 for a high-profile series of successful pirate-hunting excursions off the coast of Africa in the Arabian Sea.
Kovacich was raised in an Air Force family, and though he was already out of high school when his parents, Harriet and Vincent Kovacich, moved to Spokane, he lists the Lilac City as his hometown. Kovacich’s parents still live in Spokane Valley, along with a brother in Liberty Lake and an uncle in Spokane.
A Bronze Star recipient, Kovacich served as an A-6 Intruder pilot after joining the Navy in 1983, and has made more than 800 carrier landings and accumulated more than 4,000 flight hours, according to the Navy. His command postings have included leadership roles in several carrier-based fighter wings, various staff postings at the Pentagon and a year in Baghdad as a deputy director of operations for U.S. forces in Iraq.
The U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt, a Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, replaced the U.S.S. Enterprise this year as the strike group’s flagship.