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Colonel Roy Daniel Ragsdale Jr.

1921 - 2013 Obituary Condolences
Colonel Roy Daniel Ragsdale, Jr., United States Air Force was born on 17 March 1921, in Burkburnett, TX to Roy D. Ragsdale Sr. and Grace Lee Allsup Ragsdale. He then moved to Wichita Falls, Texas where he attended elementary school, junior high and high school. After Roy's high school graduation he attended Cameron Junior College in Lawton, Oklahoma and was later awarded an Associate Degree in Engineering. In January 1942 Roy enter the Army Air Corps as an Aviation Cadet. After completing his training at Scott Field, Illinois Roy was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the US Army Air Corps on 14 May 1942. After his commissioning Roy flew with the 2nd Air Force for about six months. During that time he picked up a new nickname, "Rags," a most endearing and fitting moniker for this fun loving soul. While assigned to the 2nd Air Force Rags performed very well on a number of difficult qualification examinations and, as a result, he was selected to attend Radar school at Harvard and MIT. During his studies, two of the most important events of his life occurred. First, he met and, later, became engaged to his soul mate, the light of his life, and the future mother of his eight children, Betty Louise Fitzpatrick. Upon graduating from Radar school, Roy attended flight training as a Radar Countermeasure Officer at Boca Raton Air Force Base, Florida. He had to leave Betty behind in Boston City Hospital to continue her nursing training but he left her with love in her heart and his ring on her finger.

After a Radar Countermeasure school (then) Captain Ragsdale was assigned as Group Radar Countermeasures Officer for the 502nd Bombardment Group (2nd Air Force), the unit that was formed and trained to drop the (then) top-secret atom bomb. The 502nd trained in a variety of remote locations including Kansas, where Rags was stationed. During that time Betty made an unexpected visit. She got the required war-time permits and traveled by train to Kansas to visit Rags. Her purpose she later admitted was to break off the engagement and return his ring. Fortunately, Betty could not resist his loving charm and she saw the error of her ways. When she returned to Boston she made it clear to anyone who might attempt to compete for her affections that she had already found the love of her life.

Rags deployed with the 502nd Bombardment Group to the Western Pacific in May 1945. He was stationed at North Field, Tinian, in the Mariana Islands. As the Radar Countermeasures Officer for the Group, Rags flew with and monitored the intercept equipment that was designed to locate the Japanese radars. He was responsible for evaluating the Japanese air defense posture and making recommendation concerning aerial routes to target area and, when necessary, evasive actions. After 29 combat missions over Japan Roy returned to the states via Hickam Field, Hawaii. Upon his arrival in Hawaii, he was met by the recently-commissioned Second Lieutenant, Elizabeth L. Fitzpatrick. Betty had joined the Army Nurse Corps a few months earlier, she claims so she could come to the Pacific and find, and then marry, her beloved fiancé, Rags. Betty had signed up to go the Philippines because, at least to her, it seemed to be very close to Tinian, where Rags was stationed (the two locations are actually separated by over 1800 miles). Despite the obvious flaws in Betty's strategy, it worked out better than she could have ever hoped. She and Rags were married there in Hawaii, beginning a blessed and fruitful marriage that lasted for nearly 65 years, until August 28, 2011, when Betty joined the Angels.

Shortly after they were married, Betty and Rags moved to Austin, Texas where he was (temporarily) released from active service. He worked as a Junior Engineer for an engineering firm while he attended the University of Texas. After 18 months of study Roy received a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering and took a job with General Electric (GE) in Syracuse and Schenectady New York. Roy was working for GE when he got a telegram from (then) Representative Lyndon B. Johnson congratulating him on his re-appointment to the United States Army.

Roy was then assigned to the 509th Bomb Group, Roswell, New Mexico as Group Radar Countermeasures Officer. In this assignment he determined the jammer confgurations for strike aircraft and flew training missions to evaluate results.

During this period he attended the Atomic Weapons School at Sandia, New Mexico. He finished first in his class of twenty officers. Returning to Roswell Air Force Base, he spent 18 months as a Wing Radar Countermeasures, Maintenance Officer, Commander, and Weaponeer.

After his assignment at Roswell, Roy attended the University of Illinois. He studied there for two years, graduating with two Masters degrees; Master of Science in Electrical Engineering and Master of Arts in Mathematics.

Roy then attended the Senior Observers School at Mather Air Force Base, California. He was awarded the Master Observers rating and with this rating he served the next two years as a crew member on RB-47-H, an electronic reconnaissance and countermeasures version of the B-47, and KC-97 tanker. Roy then spent the next six years in the Pentagon, serving in a variety of important staff positions.

In 1963 he was assigned as the Chief of the AFSC Reconnaissance Test Center at Hanscomb Air Force Base, Massachusetts. In 1966 Roy deployed to the Republic of Vietnam where he served as the Electronic Warfare Officer for the 7th Air Force.

In 1968 Roy was appointed Commander of Electronic Warfare Center, Air Force Security Services at Kelly Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas. He retired from active service in September 1971.

In 1971, Roy became the Director of the Evening School at Housatonic Community College in Bridgeport, Connecticut. In addition to his administrative duties, he taught Computer Science and was promoted to the academic rank of Professor of Computer Science.

In 1981 he and Betty moved to Summerville, South Carolina where he taught Micro Computer Programming at Trident Technical College for six years until his retirement in 1987. He and Betty purchased a beautiful home in Summerville, in community with a fabulous golf course, wonderful neighbors, and an excellent Catholic Chapel at Charleston Air Force Base. The friendships they made during this period were some of the most affirmative relationships they ever experienced.

In 1988, Rags and Betty purchased their first motor home, a 32-foot Winnebago. Shortly thereafter, they hooked up tow car and hit the road with a vengeance. For the next 20 years they traversed the United States, in three increasingly larger RV's. During these fun-filled years they enjoyed new and exciting experiences, most importantly, made dear friends all along the way. Early on they joined a travel group made up of active and retired military personnel, the Tri- State Rebels, (http://www.tristaterebels.net/) and, very quickly, their fellow group members became like family to them.

In late 2009, Betty and Rags' health began to fail and they became unable to care for themselves in their Summerville home. So they move to Colorado Springs with the Harrington's. Under Maureen and Jim's loving care, they enjoyed a peaceful and pain free existence during their waning years.

Rags was preceded in death by his beloved bride, Elizabeth L. Fitzpatrick Ragsdale. Rags is survived by his eight children: Roy Mark Ragsdale, San Antonio, TX, Maureen Harrington, Lt Col, USAF (retired), Colorado Springs, CO, Pat Beal, Austin, TX, Kathy Kennison, Arlington, TX, Michael Ragsdale, Windsor, CA, Beth McCarthy, Milford CT, Daniel Ragsdale, Colonel, US Army (retired), Arlington, VA, Joseph Ragsdale, Charleston, SC. He is also survived by nineteen grandchildren and eighteen great-grandchildren.

Visitation, 6:30 p.m. Sunday, St. Patrick Catholic Church, 6455 Brook Park Drive.

Mass of Christian Burial, 10 a.m. Thursday, St. Patrick Catholic Church, 6455 Brook Park Drive, Colorado Springs.

Private inurnment will take place at Fort Logan National Cemetery at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Pikes Peak Hospice Foundation.

Arrangements under the direction of Swan-Law Funeral Directors, Colorado Springs, CO.
Published in The Gazette on Nov. 24, 2013
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