Sixty-three years and counting. That’s how many years Fred Ogg, local hero and retired Mississippi highway patrolman, has qualified to carry a firearm.
Ninety-one years. That’s Ogg’s current age, and it effectively makes him the oldest retiree to qualify and carry his HR-218 ID card for Troop E of the MHP. The HR-218 is the card that allows retired law enforcement officials to carry a firearm.
Ogg received his renewal letter from Mississippi’s Department of Public Safety in September of this year and didn’t question whether or not he would travel to Batesville to once again take aim.
On Oct. 6, Ogg travelled to the Panola SO Range to look down the sights of his gun. Ogg’s gun of choice isn’t the mainstream weapon. While other’s in law enforcement may choose to go with a standard -issue model, such as a 9mm Glock, Ogg has determined to stay with his 357 Magnum.
“The young guys laugh and call it my ‘wheel gun,’” Ogg explained. “’Look. He’s got his wheel gun!’ they’d joke.”
Ogg retired from MHP in 1984, but has qualified every year since with his favorite piece.
Although he has battled cancer and gone through five bypass surgeries for his heart, and has picked up a slight shake due to the illnesses, when Ogg picks up his gun, his hand is steady and his aim is true. His wife, Linda, can attest to the anchored demeanor of her husband.
“When you put a gun in his hand,” she explained, “he goes still.”
This year’s qualifying was conducted a bit differently than previous years because of the effects of COVID-19. Social distancing guidelines were followed, and the groups were split by last names.
“Most of the guys out there qualifying with him,” Linda clarified, “Fred, used to be their boss.”
In order to qualify, participants must be able to shoot with both their left and right hands. Ogg needed no assistance with that aspect and only required slight assistance in standing.
Ogg has led a life that has brought him in close proximity to firearms and lives have literally depended on the accuracy of his aim.
He joined the United States Air force at the beginning of Korean War in 1950. After making a tour of American bases from Texas to Georgia, he finally arrived in Korea a month before the war came to an end.
Upon returning to the states and being discharged from service, Ogg did a quick stint in a furniture factory but wasn’t satisfied with the job.
An old friend of Ogg’s told him there was a Mississippi Highway Patrol training school located in Jackson, Mississippi. He completed training, and he laid eyes on Linda.
“I met Linda,” Ogg said. “And she hasn’t let me go home yet.”
Tate County became Ogg’s home and he began his patrol for Troop E, the division that covers Northwest Mississippi and includes cities such as north Jackson, Oxford, Starkville, Grenada and Senatobia.
During his time serving northern Mississippi, Ogg developed a reputation that tends to follow him, even in places he might prefer it not.
“Linda and I were headed out to a wedding. It was in the middle of nowhere and I told her, ‘Okay! No one is going to recognize us.’” Ogg said. “But when we got there, this old boy in the back stood up and really loudly said, ‘Look there! It’s Fred Ogg! He gave me my first ticket!’”
“What’s surprising about it, is the number of people that remember the times and dates, too!” Linda ventured. “They can tell you the location and the day of the week that it happened. Even years and years ago!”
When asked about what his advice for those looking to handle a weapon who had never shot before, Ogg didn’t hesitate to answer.
“Start small, maybe a .22. Get used to it. Work your way up. Aim with both hands.” Ogg advised.
Referred to as “The Man” by current MHP officers and retirees alike, Ogg’s reputation on the range has earned him a respect that borders on reverence.
Tom Burke, also retired from MHP, spoke highly of Ogg on social media.
“Fred Ogg can still lay them in.” Burke posted.
When posed the question, ‘What are your plans for next year?’
Ogg was ready with his answer.
“I’ll qualify again.”
Ogg will turn 92 on July 25, 2021.