Portraits in Courage: Lt. Col. Schroeder

Lt. Col. William Schroeder

Lt. Col. William Schroeder

HURLBURT FIELD, Fla. -- On the morning of April 8, 2016, Lt. Col. William Schroeder, a career special operations weather officer, saw an armed individual enter his squadron. He reacted swiftly by putting himself between the armed individual and his first sergeant. After Schroeder ordered her to run, the first sergeant heard three shots fired as she bolted from the room, followed by more shots after she left.

During the intense struggle with the gunman, Schroeder suffered several significant defensive wounds prior to succumbing to a fatal shot. His swift, heroic and selfless actions prevented the perpetrator from shooting anyone else in the squadron.

Schroeder was much more than an Airman, a special operations weather officer and a commander. He was also a dedicated husband and father of two young sons.

“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 Schroeder’s director of operations at 10th Combat Weather Squadron. “Bill was patient, never vindictive, slow to anger.”

As an elite Air Force Special Operations Weather Officer, Schroeder led other Special Tactics Airmen in the world’s only tactically trained meteorological force.

Schroeder, who had previously earned a Bronze Star, was posthumously awarded the Airman’s Medal, given to those who distinguish themselves by a heroic act. Schroeder was laid to rest with full military honors June 16, 2016, at Arlington National Cemetery, Va.