Chaplain Colonel Ronald “Russ” Ragon, 58, went home to his Savior on the 8th of April, 2023. Russ was a Chaplain and Colonel in the United States Air Force for twenty-one years and was the former pastor of Lookout Valley Presbyterian Church. Russ was born to Rev. Ronald Ragon and Judy Ward Ragon and is survived by his mother Judy Ragon, wife Margaret Fletcher, children Samantha Ragon, Madeline Atha (Brandon), and Timmy Ragon (Morgan), his sister Regina Varela (Gustavo) and grandchildren Owen, Everett, Brooks, and Iris.
Chaplain Ragon was sworn into the United States Air Force as Chaplain in July 2001 and served at military parishes both stateside and overseas. Assignments included Chaplain, Beale Air Force Base, CA; Staff Chaplain, United States Air Force Academy, CO; Senior Protestant Chaplain and Branch Chief, Ramstein Air Base, Germany; Deputy Wing Chaplain, Goodfellow Air Force Base, TX; AFIT Student, Army Family Life Chaplain Training Center, Fort Hood, TX; Deputy Wing Chaplain, Eglin Air Force Base, FL; Wing Chaplain, Incirlik Air Base, Turkey; Wing Chaplain, Royal Air Force Mildenhall, England; Deputy Division Chief, Chaplain Career Management, Air Force Personnel Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, TX; and, Deputy Command Chaplain, Headquarters Air Combat Command, Joint Base Langley-Eustis, VA.
Over the course of his 21-year career, Chaplain Ragon deployed to multiple locations in support of Operations ENDURING FREEDOM, IRAQI FREEDOM, INHERENT RESOLVE, FREEDOM’S SENTINEL, and SPARTAN SHIELD. While deployed to Sather Air Base, Iraq, he made a direct and lasting impact on thousands of coalition personnel, forging spiritual resiliency and reintegration for military families, and honoring the lives of 34 fatally wounded warriors. During his most recent deployment to Qatar, Chaplain Ragon led a 23-member team in the execution of more than 250 faith group services and 900 individual counseling sessions. In addition, his team delivered critical spiritual support to 9,000 personnel during the Operation ALLIES REFUGE evacuation of 57,000 United States and Afghan citizens over a three-week period.
Throughout his career, he earned the Air Force Meritorious Service Medal with five oak leaf clusters; Air Force Commendation Medal with three oak leaf clusters; Air Force Meritorious Unit Award; Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with one oak leaf cluster; Iraq Campaign Medal with bronze star; Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary and Service Medals; Armed Forces Service Medal; Humanitarian Service Medal; Air and Space Campaign Medal; Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster; Air Force Overseas Service Short and Long Tour Ribbons; Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon with Gold Border; Air Force Longevity Service Award with four oak leaf clusters; and Air Force Training Ribbon.
Russ loved his family fiercely and was:
a devout Christian
a cycling enthusiast
a secret Picasso
an undiscovered Faulkner
a hoot to be around
a connoisseur of fine and not-so-fine beer
a plant guru
a lover of folk, rock, reggae, and rap
a marathon runner
an eater of exceptional snackage
a creator of brilliant nicknames
a grill-meister beyond compare
He was self-proclaimed as DangerRuss, proudly known as the Redneck Chaplain, and was the most gentle of giants.
Russ shouted “YAHOO!!” at every opportunity, brought peace and comfort to many, brought love and joy to all, and was filled with hope for the broken. He made everyone feel uniquely special, and was a positive force in all of our lives.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made.
To support efforts to fight heart disease and stroke; please make a donation in Russ’s honor to the American Heart Association at https://www.heart.org To honor Russ’s love of the Appalachian Region: please make a donation in Russ’s honor to the Tennessee Native Plant Society at https://www.tnps.org/
The funeral arrangements are as follows: Thursday April 20, 2023 at Brainerd Presbyterian Church 1624 Jenkins Road, Chattanooga, TN 37421
Visitation with the family is from 9:00-11:00 am
Funeral service begins at 11:15 am
Interment at Chattanooga National Cemetery at 1:30pm with full military honors.