Defense Department News

Face of Defense: Marine Helicopter Pilot Keeps Eyes Skyward


Hailing from Lebanon, Tennessee, and homeschooled until college, Capt. Benjamin Hovies joined the Marine Corps to fly. Though unable to participate in school sports, he grew up loving the outdoors and discovered joy in earthbound pursuits such as rock climbing and scuba diving, but he always dreamed of being a pilot.

Marine Corps Capt. Benjamin Hovies, a CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter pilot assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 (Reinforced), poses for a photo aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan while at sea in the Atlantic Ocean, March 13, 2017. The ship is deployed with the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Magen F. Reed
Marine Corps Capt. Benjamin Hovies, a CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter pilot assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 (Reinforced), poses for a photo aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan while at sea in the Atlantic Ocean, March 13, 2017. The ship is deployed with the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Magen F. Reed
Marine Corps Capt. Benjamin Hovies, a CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter pilot assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 (Reinforced), poses for a photo aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan while at sea in the Atlantic Ocean, March 13, 2017. The ship is deployed with the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Magen F. Reed
Eyes on the Sky
Marine Corps Capt. Benjamin Hovies, a CH-53 Super Stallion helicopter pilot assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 (Reinforced), poses for a photo aboard the amphibious assault ship USS Bataan while at sea in the Atlantic Ocean, March 13, 2017. The ship is deployed with the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Magen F. Reed
Photo By: Petty Officer 2nd Class Magen Reed
VIRIN: 170313-N-KD168-021

“When I was a kid, my brother and I liked aviation. I was always fascinated by planes,” he said. “As I grew, that fascination never went away. If you had asked me what I wanted to do even when I was five years old, I would have told you I wanted to be a pilot.”

In 2011 he focused on his lifetime goal and with the help of the Marine Corps he made it a reality. Hovies is now assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 365 (Reinforced) as a CH-53 Super Stallion pilot.

“I joined because the Marine Corps are a class of people I wanted to be a part of,” Hovies; said. “I’ve stayed because of the people I work with. The job isn’t as romantic as the commercials, but I love it.”

With six years under his belt as a Marine Corps pilot, Hovies continues to fulfill his childhood dream.

After attending the Merchant Marine Academy in Rhode Island, as his dream was coming to fruition, he knew he would be a pilot, though he didn’t know what kind of aircraft he would fly.

According to Hovies, each pilot gets a vote in his or her aircraft, but the needs of the Marine Corps ultimately take precedence and assignments are largely based on test scores, areas of expertise and physical ability.

“As a kid I never would have told you I wanted to be a helicopter pilot, just that I wanted to be a pilot,” he said. “The process they use to decide is very fair and to be honest, I haven’t met a single pilot who would do things differently, given the chance.”

Smiling as he dons his flight gear for a long day in the air, the child who spent his time constructing miniature aircraft shines through. After sitting through hours of meetings, planning, and instruction, everything comes together and is the way it should be the moment he takes off.