04/05/10 — Meet the Ogdens: 916th ARW's new chief takes a look around

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Meet the Ogdens: 916th ARW's new chief takes a look around

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on April 5, 2010 1:46 PM

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Col. Randall Ogden and his wife, Donita, visited Seymour Johnson Air Force Base and Wayne County last week. Ogden is set to replace Col. Fritz Linsenmeyer as commander of the 916th Air Refueling Wing during a May 1 ceremony.

They were just stopping by for a visit, the 916th Air Refueling Wing's incoming first family.

But Col. Randall Ogden and his wife, Donita, didn't need much time to familiarize themselves with their new wing and its mission.

In fact, they spent most of their recent stint in Wayne County getting familiar with the community outside the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base gates -- house hunting, eating at Wilber's Barbecue and more.

Ogden is already quite well-versed in the KC-135R Stratotanker having commanded the aircraft for nearly a decade both at home and in Afghanistan.

And if the 916th's reputation is as good as he has heard it is, he said he knows all too well just what to expect during his time as its commander: Excellence.

"I have heard great things not only about how we work with the 4th Fighter Wing ... but also about just the incredible relationship our airmen have with the community," Ogden said. "And whether it's refueling or hauling patients, the 916th has a great track record of serving admirably."

Despite its fleet of aging KC-135s, the colonel said he feels strongly that the wing he will take command of at a May 1 ceremony is among the "most outstanding" of its kind in the Air Force.

And its airmen, he added, have a reputation of their own -- one exemplified by the fact that those 50-year-old tankers can still complete the mission every time they are called on to do so.

"The KC-135 is an incredible aircraft. It was made 50 years ago but Boeing did such an incredible job, it can still accomplish its mission very well. This mission is still going to war every day, flying into the Middle East," he said. "But the main reason it's such a capable aircraft is the great maintainers. ... From the most junior airman to the most senior officer, they are quality. The airmen who maintain it (the 916th's fleet) are what make that aircraft capable of completing the mission every single day."


Ogden said his decision to join the service was a result of his enthusiasm for military history and a passion for flight "coming together."

But he was not always a Reservist -- or a tanker pilot.

He came into the service as an active duty officer, one set on flying search and rescue helicopter missions.

"Flying a helicopter, a lot of our mission involved maybe picking up that fighter pilot who had gone down, where you're flying approximately 120, 130 knots across the treetops," Ogden said. "It was great."

So when he finally transitioned to life in the Reserves -- and went back to flight school to learn how to fly the KC-135 -- it was "certainly pretty different."

But the way completing whatever mission was at hand made him feel never changed.

"It's all been very rewarding," Ogden said.


It will be several weeks before the Ogden family are officially members of the Wayne County community.

But the colonel said it is already starting to feel like home.

"We can't wait. We're delighted," he said. "We've heard such great things about North Carolina."

Just as he has heard similar things about the men and women soon to be under his command.

"I's just an honor and a privilege to come command a wing with such a record of excellence," Ogden said. "We're ready to jump in with all we have."

Donita agreed.

"Everything we have done, I have always just thought of it as such a privilege," she said. "So when we get here, I definitely just want to help wherever I can. I'm really hoping to make a difference here."