My Story

Craig Covert

Craig Covert
Special Agent, USPS OIG


As a former Marine Corps Officer who was leaving active duty in the early 90s after Desert Storm, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do…until a young NCIS agent stopped by my office to conduct an interview on a case he was working. I’d seen the NCIS agents come around from time to time and didn’t really know much about them except that when they came around, you knew something big was going on. The agent shared some stories with me and peeled back some of the mystery, which got me thinking about a possible career in Federal law enforcement. His stories about his world-wide travel intrigued me the most. Besides, where else could I continue my “federal” career and count the time I’d spent on active duty toward a civilian retirement? At that time, retirement was not even a consideration, but looking back, it was a great decision, particularly after I became eligible for retirement.

During 23 years of LE service, I gained 40 years of experience! In ’92, most federal agencies were in a hiring freeze, so I took my first Federal LE job offer as a Special Agent with the Immigration and Naturalization Service, or INS. After a couple years of chasing illegals and investigating immigration fraud, however, I was assigned to the USMS Fugitive Squad where I worked in my first joint-agency environment outside of the military. I had a great 5 years at INS, mostly hands-on work, but wanted to do something a little more traditional when it came to investigative work, which led me to NCIS. I spent the next decade with NCIS working in various locations and assignments. I spent my first 3 years as a general criminal investigator in GA; the next 2 years as a computer crimes investigator in DC; another 2 years in Hawaii in a joint assignment at the FBI JTTF, followed by a year as the Executive Assistant (or EA) to the Executive Assistant Director of NCIS. I followed that assignment with 2 more years as a Supervisory Special Agent for the General Criminal Squad at NCIS in Norfolk, VA. It was a helluva ride over a short 10 years, interspersed with a 3 month PSO deployment to Iraq, several shorter Protection missions to the Philippines and India, and travel with the NCIS Assistant Director to Moscow. For a young LEO who is willing to travel and experience a little bit of everything, from larcenies to death scenes, or drug investigations and beyond, there’s no better law enforcement agency out there that will give you that kind of experience. I wouldn’t recommend it for the family man or woman wanting stability, however, as you will uproot multiple times throughout your career.

Service with NCIS in Fallujah, IraqService with NCIS in Fallujah, Iraq

In 1997, I transferred to the US Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG). We investigated internal crimes committed by employees and contractors of the US Postal Service. I stepped out of management at NCIS to go back to a street-level investigative position and had a great quality of life. Sure, I wasn’t traveling overseas or getting late night duty calls anymore, but after a decade of that, the different pace of work as an OIG agent was a welcome change. And the bottom line was that I was still fighting crime, just in a different agency and jurisdiction.

I was assigned to a USMS fugitive squad where I experienced my first joint-agency environment. I had a great 5 years at INS, mostly hands-on work, but wanted to do something a little more traditional when it came to investigative work, which led me to NCIS. I spent the next decade with NCIS working in various locations and assignments. I spent my first 3 years as a general criminal investigator in GA; the next 2 years as a computer crimes investigator in DC; another 2 years in Hawaii in a joint assignment at the FBI JTTF, followed by a year as the Executive Assistant (or EA) to the Executive Assistant Director of NCIS. I followed that assignment with 2 more years as a Supervisory Special Agent for the General Criminal Squad at NCIS in Norfolk, VA.

It was a helluva ride over a short 10 years, interspersed with a 3 month PSO deployment to Iraq, several shorter PSO missions to the Philippines and India, and travel with the EAD to Moscow. For a young LEO who is willing to travel and experience a little bit of everything, from larcenies to death scenes to drug investigations and beyond, there’s no better law enforcement agency out there that will give you that kind of experience. I wouldn’t recommend it for the family man or woman wanting stability, however, as you will uproot multiple times throughout your career.

Today, I’m on a more stable plane with the US Postal Service Office of Inspector General (OIG). We investigate internal crimes committed by employees and contractors of the US Postal Service. I stepped out of management to come back to a street-level investigative position and have a great quality of life. Sure, I won’t be traveling overseas or getting late night duty calls anymore, but after a decade of that, the different pace of working as an OIG agent is a welcome change. And the bottom line is I’m still fighting crime, just in a different agency and jurisdiction.

I spent 5 years on active duty in the US Marine Corps but never totally left the Corps. Even as an active LEO, I continued serving as a Reservist for the following 22 years. I deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan before retiring from the reserves. I never once regretted leaving active duty to follow a LE career, but I do miss putting on the uniform. The Marine Corps was no longer my vocation once I got into law enforcement, but it stayed my avocation for many years. For those of us who’ve served or continue to do so, you become a part of something bigger and more meaningful than any civilian job can ever provide, even law enforcement.

One of the most memorable duties in government service was being activated in the Marines to serve as the II MEF (Fwd) Liaison Officer to the DEA in Kabul, Afghanistan in 2011-2012. What a great gig – I was lucky to speak both jarhead and Special Agent! Serving in the Corps is blessing enough, but being able to do so alongside your brother law enforcement officers was an experience that blends the best of both worlds.

My time on the JTTF in Honolulu was likely the most fun I’ve had, although the time I served on a 3-month protection detail in Iraq was the most memorable and exciting time of my LE career. Our team traveled all over that godforsaken place! There’s nothing like driving an armored suburban 100 mph up a pockmarked highway and knowing no one could catch us. It was a combination of edgy LE and military ops; we had a great team, meshed well and fortunately, we suffered no casualties. I’ll never forget driving through towns and cities like Samawa, Nasiriyah, and Al Kut and actually thinking we were safe from the insurgents because we had hardened vehicles! Reality set in when we started hearing mortars in the distance. Eventually, one of our British counterparts struck a small IED outside of our compound and later on, insurgents bombed a school bus just outside our gates that killed many children. 2 of the Iraqi laundry girls were executed after they left the compound. It was those instances that tempered the fun we were having and let us know that things could change in a heartbeat. In the feds, we really don’t have the same award system as local and state agencies do. However, earning the Civilian Meritorious Service Medal for my time in Iraq with NCIS was a nice way to finish my PSO tour.

Working the 9/11 Pentagon crash scene will always stand out as the most memorable and impacting experience of my LE career. On 9/11, while preparing for an upcoming PSO at the Israeli Embassy in Washington, DC, the first tower was struck in NY. After watching the 2nd tower get hit, then the Pentagon, I knew life would never be the same. Along with 2 dozen other NCIS agents, we were immediately assigned to the Pentagon for the next several weeks, which started as a rescue operation but quickly turned into a recovery op. As a team leader for a day shift crew, our ultimate goal was to find the black box from flight 77, although that feat was reached by our night shift counterparts with NCIS. It was a humbling experience to be “boots on the ground”, recovering remains, personal belongings, aircraft parts and classified documents, all littered amongst the rubble. Those weeks will forever be burned into my memory and the memories of every agent with whom I served.

I must mention one of the most influential persons I ever had the pleasure of serving within law enforcement – Retired Special Agent Ralph Blincoe. I had the pleasure of working for Ralph when he was the SAC of the Washington Field Office and again as his EA when he was promoted to Executive Assistant Director of NCIS. Ralph was the kind of guy who immediately inspired one to achieve greater heights than they would have done otherwise. His presence and character were impressive – he simply made one WANT to come to work and had the innate ability to make even the most pessimistic subordinates believe in themselves, their agency and its mission. He was the kind of boss who could chew you out and make you feel good about it afterward! It’s hard to describe a leader like Ralph, and I truly believe leaders of his caliber come along only once or twice in a lifetime – I am honored to have worked with him.

During my career, I’ve learned that you attract more bears with honey than you do with salt. As an investigator, I’ve conducted an untold number of interviews over the last 20 years. I’ve interviewed rape suspects and thieves, assault victims and crime scene witnesses, registered informants and simple telephone complainants. No matter the situation, the bad cop routine rarely works as well as it does on TV. Even the most hardcore criminal just wants a little respect, and my most successful interviews have succeeded when I simply sat down and talked vice lectured. Sure, it won’t work every time, but showing a little bit of humanity, even to the dirtbag offender, goes a long way in gaining their respect and getting that confession. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve tried the bad cop routine and lost my temper more than a few times, but it rarely comes out well. Do as I say, not as I do. Serving as an LEO for 2 decades has made me seek out those folks with similar tastes, ethics, and honor. I identify myself as a three-legged stool – a LEO, a Marine and a VMI grad. If you aren’t honorable and don’t believe in service to others, then I really don’t want to associate with you. Call me close-minded, but much of today’s youth is lost and will never understand the meaning of sacrifice, service and courage.

Search Stories by Last Name, Story Title, Keyword