Maj. Gen. Stephen Danner, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard, presents the Distinguished Service Medal to Brig. Gen. John Owen for his 35 years of service during a retirement ceremony at the Ike Skelton Training Site.. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Sarah E. Lupescu).
By Sgt. Sarah E. Lupescu
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - After serving 35 years in the military, a Missouri Air National Guardsman was recognized for his time and duty during a retirement ceremony at the Ike Skelton Training Site recently.
Maj. Gen. Stephen Danner, the adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard, recognized Brig. Gen. John Owen, the Air National Guard assistant to the command surgeon of Air Mobility Command, for his many years of service to his state and nation.
"As we celebrate this day of transition into retirement, I want to say it has been an honor and privilege to serve with General Owen over these many years," Danner said. "As commander, I couldn't be more proud of the tradition and the high bar that has been set for the rest of us."
Owen reflected on his career and feels proud to have worn the uniform, he said.
"It has been an honor to serve the state of Missouri and the nation," Owen said. "It's certainly a calling that has great rewards."
Through Owen's medical career, he was involved in projects that will have a permanent impact on numerous people's lives.
"His hard work in Panama will benefit people who never even met him," Danner said.
In August 2008, Owen led a team of Missouri Guardsmen in an education exchange between the Children's Mercy Hospital in Kansas City and the Hospital del Ninos in Panama City. Representatives from each organization signed an agreement to promote the educational exchange of residents, faculty, and fellow members between the two countries.
He was also involved in helping raise money for medical supplies for another hospital in Panama through Project Hand Clasp to aid Families and children.
During the ceremony, Danner thanked Owen for his service to the Missouri National Guard.
"This isn't the end of your Guard service, once you're a Guardsman you're always a Guardsman," Danner said. "We're a Family and that's the way it will be."
Owen was presented the Distinguished Service Medal for exceptionally meritorious service in duties of great responsibility while serving as the Air National Guard assistant to the command surgeon at Scott Air Force Base. As a representative of the Manpower, Equipment, and Force Packaging System, he was a key component to reclaiming Air National Guard assets back into the Air Force Critical Care Air Transport Team inventory. Owen was also vital to the development and implementation of the new stacking litter system on Air National Guard Aircraft. He led constructive negotiations between aeromedical evacuation stakeholders, leading to the creation of a Total Force corporate structure led by a general officer oversight board chartered to set the strategic direction for the global aeromedical evacuation system.
Owen's contributions were influential in completely redesigning operations of the global patient movement system, identifying $450 million in flying hour cost savings which regained 2,800 sortie opportunities annually to support other high priority missions.
Owen also received a Certificate of Retirement, a Certificate of Appreciation signed by President Barack Obama, a Certificate of Appreciation from Missouri Governor, Jay Nixon, and a shadow box as a tribute of his career and dedication to his country.
Many thanks and recognition was given to Owen's Family members, close friends, and fellow men and women in uniform.
"Throughout my marriage there have been countless deployments, short-notice things I have missed, phone calls in the middle of the night, and many things I have missed," Owen said. "My wife, Debbie, kept her sense of humor through everything and was most supportive and forgiving."
In addition to his wife, Owen thanked his daughter, Jennifer.
"I've missed many of your ball games and other events through the years," Owen said. "You have always expressed understanding."
Owen thanked the enlisted members and fellow officers for their support. They contributed to his successful career, he said.
"I'd also like to thank the Airmen and Soldiers of the Missouri National Guard for their determination and loyalty who make it easy to sit in my position and that I've had the sacred honor to lead," Owen said. "They've made it easy to do the right thing for the people who are out there doing the right thing."
Prior to his current assignment, Owen was the chief of staff of the Missouri Air National Guard. He served as advisor to the adjutant general on matters pertaining to the Missouri Air National Guard. Owen directed and coordinated headquarters staff activities in support of 2,700 personnel in a C-130 Airlift Wing, an F-15 Fighter Wing, an Air Operations Group, a bombing range, and four specialized squadrons and flights. He also took on an additional duty capacity as director of the joint staff where he oversaw domestic operations, joint staff, special staff, and the state partnership program to the nation of Panama.
Owen was commissioned in 1978 through the Health Professional Scholarship Program at the University of Missouri School of Medicine in Kansas City.
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Brig. Gen. John Owen presents flowers of thanks to his daughter, Jennifer, for her support and understanding during his military career. Owen retired after 35 years of service. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Sarah E. Lupescu).