Ventura County recently lost two unsung heroes, tough but gentle men from a generation where service to one's country and community was a lifetime commitment, who put their lives on the line in war and peace to protect us all, and who saw the good in people while fighting the bad.
Charlie Ogle and Dick Rogge both served in World War II before beginning their careers as FBI agents. Charlie served as an electronics technician on the U.S. Coast Guard's USS Racine during World War II, while Dick fought on Iwo Jima and other Pacific Theater battlefields as a U.S. Marine.
After the war, they separately found their way into the FBI and eventually to Ventura County where I struck up a lasting friendship with them.
I knew them as courageous, conscientious and principled men who excelled at taking on the tough tasks and seeing them through.
For Dick, one particular case followed him the rest of his life. He was serving in the Criminal Division at FBI headquarters on Nov. 25, 1963, when FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover summoned him and told him to fly to Dallas to supervise the investigation into President John F. Kennedy's assassination.
For the next 10 months, Dick and his fellow G-men worked 16-hour days following every lead and theory and disproving many that later became fodder for the conspiracists. After an exhaustive investigation, Dick and his team determined that a lone gunman seeking personal fame fired the shots that felled a president. Though many have challenged his conclusions, Dick never wavered from that conviction.
He later served as assistant special agent in charge in Los Angeles, an inspector in Washington, D.C., and special agent in charge in Honolulu, Richmond, Virginia, and Buffalo, New York. Dick and his family moved to Southern California upon his retirement from the FBI in 1977.
Charlie spent his 26 years as a special agent stationed in Los Angeles and moved to Westlake Village in 1969. For the last 14 years at the FBI, he supervised the bank robbery investigations unit for Southern California and trained eight special agents who went on to be special agents in charge of FBI field offices. He has been credited and lauded by Los Angeles and Washington officials for creating a cross-agency fellowship that made his team among the most effective in the country.
After retirement, Charlie went to work for Crocker National Bank as manager of physical security. While there, Charlie received a call in his 23rd floor office that a robbery was in progress in the branch below. He took the elevator to the lobby and tackled the robber as he was attempting to leave the building. A cop is always a cop.
Both men were also an integral part of the Ventura County community. I appointed Charlie to the Grand Jury in 1987 and he was quickly chosen foreman. For many years afterward, I was approached by people telling me that there was never a better Grand Jury foreman than Charlie.
He was an active leader in the Westlake Athletic Association, coached youth basketball and baseball, and served as the Handicap Chairman of the Ventura County Safety Services Golf Association.
Dick worked on many charitable projects in the county over the years. In fact, the last time I saw him was during Christmas when I was working on Toys for Naval Base Ventura County and he was working the Marine Corps Toys for Tots campaign.
Our country and our communities are better places because of these two men. They will be greatly missed, but their legacy will live for many years to come.