Honoring Our Heroes
April 1, 2023 | View PDF
Master Sergeant Kenneth W. Ragan: Age 93
Master Sergeant (MSGT) Kenneth W. Ragan served 23 years in the United States Air Force. His Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) was Plumber. He received the following awards, citations and medals: Good Conduct Medal, Air Force Longevity Service Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award and Air Force Meritorious Unit Award.
MSGT Ragan was born April 4, 1930 to his parents, G.D. Ragan and Fannie Lee Ragan, in Cuthbert, GA, in Randolph County where he was reared. Although he dropped out of school while he was in the 10th grade, he received a GED while serving in the military.
MSGT Ragan worked for a plywood company putting the plywood together followed by working at a service station for only $2.00 a day. He considered enlisting in the U.S. Navy; however he continued working from home clearing land along highways, pulling up trees, clearing timber, delivering for a dry cleaning business, spreading lime on a farm, loading peanuts at a peanut mill and making concrete blocks. He heard about the Korean War and decided to volunteer for military service in the U.S. Air Force. He entered military service December 27, 1950 in Columbus, GA.
MSGT Ragan reported for duty at Lackland Air Force Base (AFB) in San Antonio, TX, where he remained for five days followed by Basic Training for three months at Sheppard AFB, TX, here he was assigned to work in maintenance of roads and grounds. He was then sent to Dow Air Force Base, MA, where he worked in maintenance of furnaces for three months followed by service at Grenier AFB, NH, for six months where he worked in the electric shop. Next, he went to Suffolk County Air Force Base, NY, where he served as a policeman, as well as hauling coal and practiced loading special weapons. He received special weapons training and after nine months, he received clearance for handling special weapons. He was involved in maintenance at the military hospital there. He was then transferred to Travis AFB, CA, for two years where he trained in plumbing. After completion of four years of active service in the Air Force, he left the military with two stripes on his uniform. He and his family went to Phenix City, AL, where he worked delivering milk. He then reenlisted in the Air Force at Albany, GA. was promoted and received his third stripe for his uniform. His first assignment was at a Strategic Air Command (SAC) unit at the Royal Air Force Lakenheath, stationed in England which was an accompanied tour so that his wife and two children could come there for three years. This was followed by service at McDill AFB, FL, for five years where he worked in maintenance air conditioning and plumbing in the base's hospital. He was then transferred to Eielson Air Force Base, AK. He drove a Volkswagen bus to Alaska accompanied by his family. He worked in maintenance of the 26 miles of underground steam pipes at the base for three years as the supervisor. Next, he was transferred to Reese AFB, TX, for 18 months where he worked in plumbing. He was promoted to Tech Sergeant providing five stripes and deployed to Osan Air Base, Korea, for one year working 10 hours per day seven days a week as a plumber repairing pipes and fire hydrants. This was followed by two years of service as a plumbing supervisor at Andrews AFB, MD. He was then deployed to Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base serving as the Maintenance Chief for welding, sheet metal, plumbing and carpentry for one year on an unaccompanied tour where he received his sixth stripe for his uniform. His last assignment was at Columbus Air Force Base, MS, working as head of the plumbing, electrical, sheet metal, carpentry, locksmith and welding shops for two years. MSGT Ragan retired there from military service September 10, 1973.
After his military retirement, MSGT Ragan moved to Montgomery, AL, where he worked as a plumber for a motel for three months. Using the G. I. Bill, he completed training in air conditioning and refrigeration at the John M. Patterson State Technical School, and after getting his certification, he worked for 18 years at St. Jude Hospital which later became Fairview Medical Center and then at apartments there retiring in 1993. Then he started his own plumbing company, Ragan the Plumber, installing plumbing and repairing plumbing in houses until he sold his company to his son retiring in 2000. He maintains four rental houses and uses a machine to grind down stumps on those properties for relaxation.
MSGT Ragan and his wife, Mary Katherine, were married 66 years before she passed, and they had four children, three grandchildren and one great-grandchild. He is a member of Camellia Baptist Church in Prattville and is a member of the American Legion Post 133 in Millbrook, AL
MSGT Ragan's reflections upon his military service are: "I think that the Air Force is a lot better today than when I went in because when I went in, there was a pool of jobs. This was called Utilities Helper that encompassed anything. Now people have an opportunity to get trained for one type of work. I feel good about my military service. I think that everybody should get a taste of it."