by Maggie Judi
Sometime during his junior year at Monticello High School, Chase Randall completed an assignment in Judy Barton’s class that would change the course of his life.
It was an easy and simple assignment: apply to three colleges.
Maybe it was in his genes that one of the schools Chase chose was the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.
Chase is the grandson of Deanne and the late Ruel Randall. The latter was a pilot most of his life. Ruel got his start flying when he volunteered for World War II and the Army Air Corp in 1942.
He became a B-17 co-pilot, flying 28 combat missions over enemy territory and completing missions with his crew dropping food to the starving Dutch people, as well as rescuing French POWs in Yugoslavia.
Ruel also spent many years flying over the canyon country of San Juan and much of the Desert Southwest.
Whatever it was that sparked the interest, Chase was driven to serve in the military.
So when the Academy sent Chase Randall a return letter in which they gave him permission to apply, he was intrigued. “I thought, Why do I need permission to apply?”
He began to research the school a little more to find out what he had to do to be accepted and determined that if he could get in, Colorado Springs and the Air Force Academy was the place he wanted to be.
Randall also applied to the Naval Academy and West Point and received acceptance letters from both. But he heard nothing but crickets from his first choice until one day when his mother brought him a letter at the high school.
It was from a Utah congressman congratulating him on his acceptance! And that was how his adventure at the Academy began.
Military Academies are notorious for their tough as nails approach to training young men and women. Chase recalls how gruelling freshman year was.
He enumerates how every single detail of a cadet’s life was completely structured, “As freshman, we can’t wear our backpacks. We have to carry them. There are all these lines painted on the campus sidewalks and you can only walk on the lines and you have to run on the lines between class. Every person you see you had to know their name and greet them.”
Chase also tells how the academic standards are so high that when a cadet transfers to a different college, their GPA is automatically bumped up.
So how does a farm boy from Monticello learn to cope with all this? Chase calls it, “pushing through the crap and dealing with it.”
And he says he learned that in two memorable ways in his formidable years in San Juan County.
“Wrestling practice comes to mind,” he says with a slight chuckle. “When I was in the middle of wrestling season and cutting weight pretty hard, I always remember going to bed at night and thinking ‘I don’t really wanna go to sleep cause when I wake up I’ll be at practice and starving all over again.’”
He remembers thinking the same thing on occasion at the Academy and also realizing that although his situation was uncomfortable, it was not unfamiliar. Chase said that Monticello Buckaroo Coach Kent Adair “has a program as tough as anything the academy could throw at a person!”
He also says a lot of his ability to “deal with it” comes from many summers spent with Grandpa Ruel hauling hay out on the farm. Flying isn’t the only thing the grandfather and grandson had in common. Both are men of few words, choosing instead to speak with their actions. The similarities were not lost on the rest of the family.
“There were a lot of days in the summer where it was just me and my grandpa out there. He was kinda like me, my dad and Grandma would always tease us because we’d go out and work all day and we’d come home and they’d be like, ‘How many words did you guys say today?’”
Chase can’t articulate exactly how his grandpa infused a work ethic inside him. Nothing was ever said or done, Chase explains it best this way. “You always knew not to complain or whine, I don’t know how that expectation was made. Nothing was ever done or said about it, you just knew that’s how it was done.”
Anyone who new Ruel can understand exactly what Chase learned in the dry farmlands surrounding Monticello. A man’s actions speak louder than his words.
Soon after returning to the academy from an LDS mission to Japan, Chase was in a snowboarding accident that caused a severe concussion. In order to be accepted as a pilot, a candidate must have a medical waiver after any concussion.
He had an MRI that showed unexplainable lesions on his brain and after a year of evaluations, the doctor told him that even though he was asymptomatic, he would not sign the waver.
Chase said, “I 100 percent thought the pilot thing was over.” But good things come to those who “push through and deal.”
Chase says, “I still don’t know what happened, but somehow it came through.”
His superior said to him, “Well, I guess someone at the Pentagon likes you ‘cause you’ve got a waiver.”
He explains it this way, “It’s definitely not just me that has got me here.”
Chase has graduated from the Academy and has begun his training as a Pilot. Learning aerobatics and formations on a T6 Turbo prop and spending countless hours in a T38!
He just learned he will spend his Air Force career flying the A-10, more commonly known as the WartHog. The A-10 was designed for close air support (CAS) of friendly ground troops, attacking armored vehicles and tanks, and providing quick-action support against enemy ground forces.
This means that when his training is done, Chase will be deployable, just like Grandpa Ruel, flying missions to support the war effort.
1st Lt. Chase Randall has “pushed through” a lot of crap, as it were, and dealt with enough hard things to become the kind of pilot that a fellow soldier can rely on, someone who has learned that actions in the air, and in life, always speak louder than words.