ARLINGTON NATIONAL CEMETERY, Va. — Two months after the tragic and sudden passing of Lt. Col. William “Bill” Schroeder, the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard laid him to rest with full military honors June 16, at the Arlington National Cemetery, Virginia.
More than 100 family members, teammates and service members attended the service to honor Schroeder, who was the commander of the 342nd Training Squadron at Lackland Air Force Base, Texas.
“As a professional, his calm demeanor, patience and genuine concern for everyone he came in contact with was unparalleled. He taught me how important it was to take care of my men, to be there for them when they needed someone, and to stick to your morals and ethics no matter what the situation,” said Maj. Jay Syc, who served with Schroeder at the 10th Combat Weather Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Fla., and is a godfather to one of his sons.
But Schroeder was more than an Airman, a Special Operations Weather Officer and a commander. He was a dedicated father. According to those close to him, Schroeder, 39, a native of Ames, Iowa, and his wife, Abby, had two boys, whom he was deeply devoted to.
“Bill was the finest example of commander, leader, husband, father, and friend. He was amazing in all those roles. Bill always did the right thing the right way—especially when it was a tough decision,” Maj. Jonathan Sawtelle said, who served as his director of operations at 10th CWS. “Bill was patient, never vindictive, slow to anger.”
Growing up, Schroeder was an Eagle Scout, played football and basketball in high school and later enjoyed running marathons and ultra-marathons, which Sawtelle says reflected his careful and patient nature.
Later, he became one of the few Special Operations Weather Officers, leading Special Tactics Airmen and was the officer component of the world’s only tactically trained meteorological force.
“He was a commander who cared about his people more than anything else. Everything he did was focused around the Airmen,” said Chief Master Sgt. Shane Wagner, who served as his chief enlisted manager at the 10 CWS. “He was someone you could count on to be there when you needed him. He would never say no when you needed help.
“As an enlisted person, there are very few people that I would say I would follow anywhere, and Col Schroeder is one of them,” added Wagner.
Schroeder recognized a perilous situation developing in his unit and reacted swiftly by putting himself between an armed individual and his first sergeant. In the process, he saved lives of other squadron members while being fatally wounded.
The events that took place on the day of Schroeder’s death are still under investigation, but Schroeder was posthumously awarded the Airman’s Medal, given to those who distinguish themselves by a heroic act — usually at the voluntary risk of their lives but not involving combat.
Schroeder entered active duty in July 1999 and in addition to an Airman’s medal, he had earned a Bronze Star, two Joint Service Commendation Medals, two Air Force Commendation Medals, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal and three Meritorious Service Medals.