RAF MILDENHALL, England --
Whether it was luck, coincidence or pure fate, two U.S. Air Force Chaplains have been following along the same path unknowingly to meet again years later at the RAF Mildenhall base chapel.
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Ronald Ragon and Chaplain (Capt.) Joseph Wright, 100th Air Refueling Wing chaplains, have shared not only two of the same bases throughout their career, they also shared the same seminary school and a high school that shares similar values to the branch they serve.
Growing up in the South, both gentlemen found their way through the McCallie School a private all-boys secondary school located in Tennessee. The core values it instills in every student are honor, truth and duty. The Air Force Core Values of excellence, integrity and service were all too familiar for them.
Although they share the same path, each experience was different, with Wright’s road being a bit bumpier than usual.
“I wasn’t focused at that age; I hated studying, I hated school, and I hated reading and my grades suffered,” Wright said. “All I cared about was hanging out with my friends. I was sent to McCallie as a boarding student because my father knew I needed a change. One of my instructors took me under his wing, and with his guidance, I fell in love with learning. His teaching impressed the sacrifices people made to make the world better, which really got me on the right path.”
As Wright struggled with his internal influences, Ragon dealt with outside pressures.
“There are always going to be negative influences and pressures around you wherever you go,” Ragon said. “Those godly people surrounding me at school truly made an impact. Their presence outweighed the negative influences.”
The path both men followed, although different in their trials and tribulations led them purposefully to where they are now.
“My high school experience was one that encouraged discipline and focus in our duties,” Ragon said. “I find that my work as a chaplain is always directed toward that same purpose. I hope that I have been able to open the eyes of all the Airman I counsel to the fact that God has created each person to be a one-of-a-kind contributor to the world, and that difficult circumstances can serve to strengthen our gifts and abilities for greater use, even in their darkest hours.”
Wright and Ragon both agree that influencing Airmen toward hope is one of the hardest, yet most rewarding aspect of careers.
“I enjoy seeing people, marriages and families recover from adversity and not only survive, but thrive,” Wright said. “Seeing lives saved is a humbling and meaningful experience. I love knowing that my time, efforts, and labors are having a very real and tangible, and I believe, eternal impact.”
The Air Force has given these two chaplains the opportunity to understand the world from many different perspectives and allowed them to expand their McCallie pride into Air Force strength.
“When I got the letter to join the Air Force Chaplain Corps, I took it as a sign from God that it was time to go,” Ragon said. “I have no idea why I joined, but since joining, I know this is where I am supposed to be.”