07/26/12 — Ogden set to say goodbye

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Ogden set to say goodbye

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on July 26, 2012 1:46 PM

He finds it hard to believe that two years went by so quickly -- that before summer's end, he will no longer be commander of one of the most reputable Reserve wings in the Air Force.

He laments the fact that leaving Seymour Johnson Air Force Base will mean the end of day-to-day interactions with men and women who have become family -- the end of long flights inside the cockpit of a KC-135R Stratotanker.

But as Col. Randall Ogden prepares to take on his next assignment, he will walk away from a post he once characterized as a "dream job" knowing that during his stint as 916th Air Refueling Wing commander, his airmen shined.

And when he passes the unit's guidon to Col. Gregory Gilmour, he will do so feeling confident about the future of the team he has led since May 2010.

"The 916th is a great team made up of the flyers you see a lot ... over the skies of Goldsboro and also the people working behind the scenes," he said. "It's an incredible team of dedicated men and women."

They proved it when, no more than a month after he took command, they were faced with a no-notice nuclear operational readiness inspection -- the first test of its kind the wing had faced in more than two decades.

"They did great," Ogden said. "Just to see the whole team come together ... was just outstanding."

And they reinforced it with exemplary performances during their other operational readiness inspection.

"We didn't miss a beat," the colonel said.

But their precision was not tested only at their home station.

They were put to the test during deployments in support of operations in Afghanistan, Libya and beyond -- each time impressing those combatant commanders charged with leading them down range.

"They are dedicated people," Ogden said. "Whatever it is that they do, they do it with great skill."

So when the time finally comes to say goodbye, he will do so believing that the sky is the limit for the people he is leaving behind.

He has seen their "huge sacrifices" and "tremendous dedication" far too many times to doubt them.

"I'm confident that this wing is well-positioned for years to come," Ogden said. "I don't think I've ever seen a finer group of airmen."