On September 6, 2013, retired United States Navy Chief Petty Officer, Eric J. Hovan, had the day of his life he will never forget. His one request was to have his retirement flag flown at the Caterpillar headquarters in Peoria, Ill.
Upon retirement, it's customary for an Armed Services retiree to be given an American flag that has flown at a place of his or her choosing. Hovan, however, was never given the opportunity to choose where his flag was flown, so he reached out to Caterpillar to ask if they would fly his retirement flag over the Caterpillar world headquarters.
Hovan was a Fleet Diesel Engine Inspector while in the U.S. Navy. During his service, he worked on Cat® 3500 and 3600 Series engines. Growing up in the coal fields of Pennsylvania, Hovan operated a cable lift D8 and D9H at a young age. Hovan stated, "Caterpillar has been part of my life since I was knee high to a bulldozer track frame. Both the products and Caterpillar people hold a very special and dear place in my heart."
Caterpillar Corporate Affairs worked with Global Facilities Management to procure a military standard flag and have it flown at Caterpillar Corporate Headquarters (Building AB) in Peoria, Ill., for one week. Hovan was then invited to the Caterpillar Visitors Center, where he was presented the flag, a letter of appreciation for his service from Caterpillar Chairman and CEO Doug Oberhelman and photos of the flag on the flagpole where it flew. He was accompanied by his wife, Janie, who is a manager for Cat® dealer Ohio Cat. "This experience is forever etched in my mind, and there are no words to express my gratitude for the kindness that was extended to me and my wife that day by everyone," stated Hovan.
Following the ceremony, the couple received a Caterpillar Visitors Center VIP tour, where Hovan learned more about the company, the iron and the people making sustainable progress possible around the world, as well as a tour of the SS facility in East Peoria.