02/23/12 — 916th chief to join mission

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916th chief to join mission

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on February 23, 2012 1:46 PM

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Col. Randall Ogden

Watching young men and women board aircraft bound for war has become a part of his routine.

Telling them their families will be taken care of while they are in harm's way -- that they are prepared to meet the challenges ahead -- are among his many mantras.

But the 916th Air Refueling Wing commander understands that those responsibilities are meant to fall on the shoulders of the person charged with leading a fighting force.

And for nearly two years, Randall Ogden has welcomed that role.

Still, he might not have imagined that one day, he, too, would leave Seymour Johnson Air Force Base for a several-month tour in the Middle East -- that he would be the one relying on his fellow airmen, and the communities they call home, to look after his wife and children; that someone would give him the same pep talk he has grown so accustomed to delivering.

But when it happened, he embraced his pending stint as deputy dDirector of mobility forces -- seeing it as simply another opportunity to lead one of the Air Force Reserve's elite wings.

"You know, I send a lot of people downrange to serve their country, so it's great for me to go as well," Ogden said. "Not only does it set an example that leadership will make these sacrifices as well, but it also gives me a better understanding of what these airmen and their families go through."

And it will give him a chance to see, firsthand, just what young men and women like those he is currently charged with leading are bringing to the fight in Afghanistan.

While deployed -- Ogden will go through training for the next several weeks before traveling overseas -- the colonel will be one of two officers overseeing missions from airlifting cargo and refueling airplanes to airdropping supplies and evacuating wounded troops.

"In my role, I'll be helping ... to help make sure those operations go smoothly," he said. "And I'm excited about that -- the diversity of the mission."

And he is confident that while he is away, those many support systems he asks to step up on behalf of his airmen when they are deployed will do the same for him.

"My family will sacrifice ... and it's tough," Ogden said. "But we have the most supportive community ... and I couldn't think of a better place to deploy from and be confident that my wife and children will be very well taken care of."