Airmen honor their murdered commander during emotional funeral

(Left) Airmen perform memorial pushups to honor Lt. Col. William Schroeder after his interment ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery June 16.  (Right) Lt. Col. William Schroeder's wife, Abby, and one of his sons say goodbye to him during his June 16 burial at Arlington National Cemetery. (Photos: A1C Philip Bryant / Air Force)
(Left) Airmen perform memorial pushups to honor Lt. Col. William Schroeder after his interment ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery June 16.
(Right) Lt. Col. William Schroeder’s wife, Abby, and one of his sons say goodbye to him.
(Photos: A1C Philip Bryant / Air Force)


More than 100 people gathered last week for an emotional ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery — to say goodbye to their beloved commander and friend.

39-year-old Lt. Col. William Schroeder was killed in a murder-suicide, in early April, at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland.  He was commander of the 342nd Training Squadron there and was shot by Technical Sgt. Steven Bellino, a pararescue student at the 342nd, Air Force officials said.

The shooting is still under investigation.

The Air Force posthumously awarded Schroeder the Airman’s Medal, which is given to airmen who “distinguish themselves by a heroic act in a non-combat situation”. Schroeder reportedly put himself between the gunman and his first sergeant as soon as he realized they were in danger.

“He was a commander who cared about his people more than anything else,” said Chief Master Sgt. Shane Wagner, who had worked with Schroeder at a previous assignment. “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.”

Special tactics members pay their final respects to Lt. Col. William Schroeder June 16 at Arlington National Cemetery. (Photo: A1C Philip Bryant / Air Force)
Special tactics members pay their final respects to Lt. Col. William Schroeder June 16 at Arlington National Cemetery. (Photo: A1C Philip Bryant / Air Force)

Schroeder’s primary career field was as a J15W3 weather officer. Before he took the position at Lackland, he was commander of the 10th Combat Weather Squadron at Air Force Special Operations Command at Hurlburt Field, Florida, according to Air Force Times.

He leaves behind a wife and two boys.

“Bill was the finest example of commander, leader, husband, father and friend,” said Maj. Jonathan Sawtelle, who was Schroeder’s director of operations at the 10th Combat Weather Squadron. “He was amazing in all those roles. Bill always did the right thing the right way — especially when it was a tough decision. Bill was patient, never vindictive, slow to anger.”

The Times reports that Schroeder entered active duty in July 1999 and 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.

Maj. Jay Syc, who served with Schroeder at the 10th said, “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.”

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