Major Ronald A. McGregor, USAF Retired, departed this life on December 24, 2023, at the age of eighty-four to join the Lord and his loved ones that traveled there before him. He died peacefully at the VA Community Home. He had no fear of death, and often said he believed in the “after life.” Ronald was born to Margaret and ‘Speck’ McGregor on June 1, 1939, in Blytheville, Arkansas where he was raised. He so looked forward to joining the military and seeing the world that he got the Air Force recruiter out of bed at 6:00a.m. the morning after graduation to immediately sign him up. It was the height of the ‘Cold War’ and Ron had an exciting career. He traveled to twenty-one countries, some several times, and moved up through the ranks. His enlisted assignments included very memorable overseas assignments in England and France.
While overseas, he returned to Blytheville on leave to marry the love of his life and high school sweetheart Elizabeth Ann Blackwell. It was without a doubt the most wonderful Christmas of his life as they were married on Christmas day in 1959 and two weeks later, he had to return to England. Upon his return to the U.S., he was assigned to Andrews FB where their first child, Peggy, was born. Two months later he was reassigned overnight to Joint Task Force EIGHT (the nuclear testing program where he participated in the testing of twenty-three live detonations), before being assigned to the office of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In the meantime, he was able to continue his college education via night school. After becoming an NCO, he applied for and was accepted for a commission. He was sent to the University of Tennessee to complete his BS degree where their second child, Scott Sanders McGregor, was born; and then on to the Officer’s Training School.
As an officer he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant and assigned to the Armed Forces Air Intelligence Training Center (AFAITC) at Lowry AFB, Colorado. After completion of the training, he was sent to Tan Son Nhut Air Base in Vietnam as an Air Intelligence officer with the 460th Technical Reconnaissance Squadron commanded by a Lieutenant Colonel. In addition to his regular duties, he was assigned as the ‘Awards & Decoration’s’ officer, Wing representative to the base Junior Officer’s Council, currency exchange office, and as the ‘Civic Actions’ officer which resulted in being Tan Son Nhut’s representative to the Phu My Orphanage where upwards of two hundred children were cared for. Twice during his one-year tour of duty there, he was appointed ‘Acting Squadron Commander’ as only a Lieutenant, to perform certain duties the actual Squadron Commander was reluctant to perform. When the squadron was in the process of being disbanded, he was the last person left behind, which meant by default, he became responsible for each of the officer’s duties. With no real duties left to perform, he found himself wondering why he should not be returned to the U.S. early. He visited the Legal Office and the Personnel Office and asked how it could be arranged. Each said that all he had to do was to get he’s Squadron Commander’s approval and his departure date would be changed. He explained that his Squadron Commander had already rotated back to the U.S. s he was walking out of the office, a young airman stopped him and explained that by Air Force regulations, if there were no other officers left in the unit, then he would automatically become the Squadron Commander. So, Ron prepared a memo authorizing himself to be given an ‘early return’ date, signed the memo himself as Squadron Commander and departed two weeks prior to his scheduled rotation date. It is believed that he was the first, if not the ‘only’ Lieutenant that approved his own transfer.
He returned to the AFAITC to become an Instructor in the Nuclear and Conventional Weaponizing courses as well as the point of contact with the Air Force Personnel department for assignments for the graduating students. While on this four-year assignment, he earned his Master Instructor rating completed his MBA with the University of Northern Colorado, and completed the Air Force Squadron Officers School at Maxwell AFB, Alabama. At the end of that tour, he was selected for assignment to the prestigious North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) School at Oberammergau in Bavaria, where he lectured officers of all the NATO alliance services on the best use of the air weapons in combat situations. He was also invited to be a guest lecturer at the Norwegian military staff college in Oslo, to be an official observer at the British staff school at Old Sarum, Salisbury, England; and at the request of the commander of NATO’s Commander-In-Chief of Southern Command (SOUTHCOM), he made a ‘No Advance Notice’ inspection of one of the unit’s departments that had not performed to expectations. Because of his NATO School assignment he was awarded the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers – Europe (SHAPE) badge to wear on his uniform. When not performing his military duties, he taught college extension courses for the University of Maryland and City Colleges of Chicago in Garmisch and Augsburg; and took up the very popular sport of Volksmarching. When his tour was completed, he was assigned to the 602nd Tactical Air Control Center at Bergstrom AFB, Austin, Texas where he gained a reputation of standing up to and sometimes disagreeing with senior officers that disregarded certain regulations and international agreements.
Ron’s medals include Defense Meritorious Service, USAF Meritorious Service (2), Joint Service Commendation, USAF Commendation (2), USAF Good Conduct (2), Arm Good Conduct, National Defense Service, U.S. Vietnam Service (4 campaigns), Vietnam Campaign, Presidential Unit Citation, Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross, Meritorious Unit Citation, Armed Forces Service, and the following commemorative medals: American Defense, Combat Service, U.S. Air Force, Overseas Service, Armed Forces Expert Marksman, Cold War Victory, Republic of Vietnam Service, USAF Outstanding Unit, NATO Service, Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal, Honorable Discharge (3), Armed Force Retired Service, and the VN 50th Anniversary. Ron was immensely proud of his twenty-six-year military service and equally as proud of his Scottish heritage and his more than sixty-five years of researching his family connections with and participating in the Clan Gregor (MacGregor) activities.
Ronald is preceded in death by his mother Margaret and father ‘Speck’ Alvie McGregor, sisters: Joann Pippin and Betty Avis. He leaves behind his wife Elizabeth Ann, sister Patricia Skelton, two children Peggy McGregor and Scott (Melissa) McGregor, five grandsons, and four great grandchildren.