Commander fatally shot at work laid to rest at Arlington

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Ryan Conroy
  • 24th Special Operations Wing Public Affairs
Two months after Lt. Col. William “Bill” Schroeder was fatally shot during an incident of workplace violence, the U.S. Air Force Honor Guard laid him to rest with full military honors June 16 at Arlington National Cemetery.

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 Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas.

“As a professional, his calm demeanor, patience and genuine concern for everyone he came in contact with was unparalleled,” said Maj. Jay Syc, who served with Schroeder at the 10th Combat Weather Squadron at Hurlburt Field, Florida, and is a godfather to one of his sons. ”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,”

But Schroeder, 39, of Ames, Iowa, was more than an Airman, a special operations weather officer and a commander. He was also a dedicated father. According to those close to him, Schroeder 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,” said Maj. Jonathan Sawtelle, 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 said 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 10th 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,” Wagner added.

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 the lives of other squadron members while being fatally wounded.

The events that took place that day are still under investigation, but Schroeder was posthumously awarded the Airman’s Medal, given to those who distinguish themselves by a heroic act in a non-combat situation.

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.