Valvoline American Heroes: Q&A with Military Veteran Ron Wagner

Jul 16, 2019

We’re proud of all American heroes far and wide, and we’re especially proud of the heroes under our own roof.

Ron Wagner serves as Valvoline’s Production Manager and served as an officer in the military for 13 years. Read on to learn more about Ron’s service, accomplishments, and his own American heroes.

Photo Credit: Ron Wagner

Why did you choose to serve?

I am the fourth generation of a five-generation Military family (my son is a Marine), and those in my family who didn’t join the service volunteered to be firefighters. My mother is a VA registered nurse, so I guess you could say that service is in my blood. 

What was your favorite place to be stationed and why?

My favorite place to be stationed was Kaiserslautern, Germany. The culture is amazing. Downtown has some older churches and buildings that still have battle scars from WWII bombings. During that tour of duty, I was able to ski in the Alps, enjoy Oktoberfest in Munich, ascend the Eagle’s Nest in Berchtesgaden, contemplate humanity at Dachau concentration camp, and lead the Flag Lowering (Retreat) Ceremony at the US Military Cemetery at Normandy, France, where General Patton, among thousands of other Americans, rest.

Photo Credit: Ron Wagner

What led you to be an officer in the military for 13 years?

I am the oldest of six, and I didn’t want to burden my parents with helping me pay for college, so I worked hard in high school JROTC to earn a full college ROTC scholarship at Georgia Military College. Two of my siblings followed me into the military after high school and both attained degrees through the service or GI Bill. I’m also an ENTJ personality type, just like General Patton, so the Army was a perfect place to teach me the discipline of being a young leader.

Photo Credit: Ron Wagner

In your service, what award or accomplishment meant the most to you and why?

I received the Bronze Star, an award that “logistics” officers don’t receive much. There is a similar non-combatant award called the Meritorious Service Medal, which is generally awarded for an exceptional job during a combat deployment at the 1LT-CPT level. The nature of combat in Ar Ramadi, Iraq flipped my traditional “logistics” world on its head. I was leading convoys down what Time Magazine called “The most dangerous stretch of highway in the world.” I had to call in airstrikes, medivacs, received small arms and sniper fire, had multiple IEDs initiated on my convoys, lost two HMMWV’s, but never lost a soldier under my command.

Do you think your leadership role in the military has helped you in the Production Management role at Valvoline? If so, how?

I completely believe it has helped me. Military professionals carry themselves in a way that commands respect. You learn how to be selfless in the service and how to be a true servant leader because people aren’t your “employees,” they are your brothers- and sisters-in-arms. You’re not just responsible for their performance output, but their lives. That carries over into the civilian world. When most people think of the military, they think of a drill sergeant screaming at a private, but that’s not me. I never yell; I don’t need to. No matter what tough situation, contention, or challenge there is at my civilian job, it pales in comparison to the challenges of leading troops in war. Through that ownership, no challenge is too big, and no matter what, we can get through it.


Photo Credit: Ron Wagner

Who are your American heroes?

Along with several generals and presidents, there are a few American heroes in my family.  My grandfather, John Wagner, served as an infantryman in Korea—he was a man that everyone looked up to. My dad has served as a volunteer firefighter for over 40 years, and still serves locally at 65 years old. He inspired my two brothers, Casey and Ken, to also serve as firefighters and both are active volunteers of their departments. My mom has been a Department of Veterans Affairs registered nurse for over 30 years in many challenging roles. My Uncle Don Wagner just retired after serving 32 years in the Air Force—he gave me my first salute as an officer. He was like a second father, and he inspired my two other brothers, Tim and Don, to serve. Tim served 12 years in multiple-overseas combat or humanitarian tours, and Don II is currently serving as a Staff Sergeant in the Air Force while applying for Officer’s Candidate School upon completion of his bachelor’s degree. My Aunt Tysh is medically retired from the Army after a difficult tour of duty as a combat medic in Afghanistan. And finally, my son, Dustin, is a Marine Reservist and is in college studying to be a pilot, and it fills me with pride that he wanted to volunteer and serve his country.

Photo Credit: Ron Wagner

Since you work for Valvoline, we have to ask, what was your first car?

My first car was a 1984 Nissan 240SX with a 5-speed manual transmission and sunroof. I took it to Georgia Military College at 17 years old. Ironically, I blew the engine on it due to letting it go too long without an oil change. I have been religious about oil changes since then.

Join us in giving back to our American Heroes this summer. Purchase 5 quarts of any Valvoline motor oil now through July 31st at participating retailers and you can choose to donate a $5 rebate to select charitable organizations. Visit for more information.

Don't miss out on new content

An error occurred while submitting your email address to the mailing list. Please try again or contact us for assistance.

By submitting your email address you agree to receive email information, great offers, and more from Team Valvoline.

Thanks for signing up. Set your password and start earning reward points for everything you do on the site.

You already have a Team Valvoline account. Sign in here.

Did you forget your password?

Tags: Culture