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Navigating new horizons: A Navy pilot’s journey through retirement

Navy pilot takes flight with Hiring Our Heroes.
Jessica Manfre Avatar

After a decade in the Navy flying MH60s, Lieutenant Commander Caleb Korver was ready to execute a new mission, and Hiring Our Heroes was ready to help.

“I honestly started thinking about the military later on during my high school years. I had a cousin in the Naval Academy and started talking to them about it,” Korver shared. “I had been flying in a small civilian aircraft a couple of times with my uncle and really was intrigued by the thought of flying. I decided to kind of go all in on wanting to serve.”

The desire to do so led him to ROTC at Washington State. Upon graduation, Korver was commissioned as a Naval Officer in 2012. He spent two years in flight school and achieved his goal of becoming a pilot.

“I flew the MH60 Sierra in the Navy which is kind of a multi-mission helicopter,” he added.

From leading to being an instructor at the flight school for all branches in Pensacola, Korver shared that serving was everything he thought it would be. Then the deployments started.

“In 2017 I deployed on the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier to the Middle East and we were primarily in the Arabian Gulf,” he explained.

Though that experience was everything he wanted as a pilot, leaving got harder once he had a family.

“I think that nothing quite prepares you for what it’s like but the toll and hardship it takes when you deploy and leave your family is very real,” he said. “During my second deployment in 2022, I had a 2-year-old, my wife was pregnant with our second child and I think that’s when I knew I didn’t want to keep leaving.”

The second deployment occurred while he was stationed in Monterey, California, aboard the Lincoln aircraft carrier deployed mostly throughout Southeast Asia. He used this time to go back to school through a distance learning program and earned his MBA.

“It was not necessarily as an exit strategy but just out of my own curiosity and wanting to take advantage of the time to go back to school but I really enjoyed it,” Korver explained. “My wife and I knew we were going to end up back in the Seattle area eventually. I wondered what it would be like to make a hard pivot into the business world and so that’s what I did.”

He was stationed in Washington after his time on the carrier and used it to look for opportunities outside of the Navy. A chaplain told him about Hiring Our Heroes and explained how helpful the program is for transitioning service members.

“I got myself lined up with their fellowship program through SkillBridge,” Korver said.

It brought him to T-Mobile, and upon completing the program, the company offered him a permanent position as a Business Analysis Manager.

“I think the military prepared me very well for this role. From learning new things pretty often with frequent moves and changes to leadership opportunities. It all translated well into being able to do what I do now,” Korver shared. “Hiring Our Heroes is such an excellent program and honestly gave me an opportunity and a chance I probably wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

He admitted that the thought of transitioning out of the military can feel daunting and overwhelming. But the support of the HOH Fellows Program and the encouragement he received from T-Mobile made all the difference in the world.

“I had so many people pour into me during my transition time,” Korver said. “I’m so grateful for everything I had a chance to be part of. I love talking about my experience with HOH. I view it as a way to give back and to encourage other veterans to know there are really awesome opportunities waiting for them outside of service and that can be meaningful, too.”

Jessica Manfre is an author and freelance writer for multiple publications. She is a licensed social worker, earning her Master of Social Work degree from the University of Central Florida in 2020. She also holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Northwestern State University. Jessica is the co-founder and CFO of Inspire Up, a 501c3 nonprofit promoting global generosity and kindness through education, empowerment and community building. She is the spouse of an active duty Coast Guardsman and mother of two. When she isn’t working, you can find her reading a good book and drinking too much coffee.