CW3 (Ret.) Scott Schroeder, USA
Scott Schroeder was born in January of 1966 and grew up in typical fashion in Ft Wayne, Indiana. He is the eldest child of Jim and Susan Schroeder and has two younger brothers, Shawn and Shane. While growing up he was athletic and participated in many high school sports such as football, basketball, baseball and played travel hockey representing his home town of Fort Wayne Indiana. He was on that classic American trail of growing up, trying to find his place in life, and far too often finding himself in some trouble, moving from job to job and trying to make that transition into becoming an adult.
Then things changed. At 20, Scott decided that he would enlist in the Army for Three years; it gave Scott a new perspective which led him to a career in the Special Forces. Along with him for that change was Laura. Over the years, Scott rose through the ranks and became a Master Sergeant, which is the point at which many men begin to look at retiring. Not Scott. In 2004, he made the choice to change again and went to Warrant Officer School. In 2005, he pinned on the rank of WO1.
Scott loves the Army and Special Forces, but he recognizes that a career in Special Forces is similar to a career in professional sports. It can be great while it lasts, but it won’t last forever. You know… no one ever expects to have your number pulled. That always happens to the ‘other’ guy. But, ours did, and we couldn’t have successfully pulled through this without all of you out there,” wrote Laura after their homecoming gathering in July of this year. That sentiment of not having your number pulled is an almost universal thought among SOF operators at all levels. That is part of what enables operators to continue to execute mission after mission after mission.
Scott’s number was pulled on December 10, 2010. While he was on a mission to conduct Village Stability Operations, his vehicle struck a pressure plate that detonated an IED right beneath him. Interestingly enough, Schroeder’s vehicle wasn’t the first one in the column, but the sixth.
The explosion caused such damage to Scott’s body that both of his legs were amputated in the field above the knee and his right arm was severely mangled by fractures, tissue loss, and shrapnel. When he was finally stabilized, he was evacuated back to Walter Reed to begin his recovery. Laura and their son, Zach, along with Scott’s parents met Scott at his bedside where he began his work toward recovery. His first five months were filled with surgery after surgery (over 30 and still counting) to salvage his arm and stabilize his amputated legs. Problems with infections and medications slowed down his recovery process in addition to the problem of not being able to practice with his prosthetic legs due to the possibility of falling and further damaging his arm.
As Scott’s recovery progressed, he was changed to out-patient status. He and Laura were able to move into an apartment provided by SOCOM that was a few minutes’ drive away from the hospital. Laura wrote, “Though it wasn’t ‘home’, it was refreshing to say ‘good-bye’ to five months of hotel living.”
Improvements continued, and Scott began to regain some independence. That allowed Laura to begin thinking about some changes of her own. She began to pursue a Masters’ Degree in Landscape Architecture at Morgan State University in Baltimore. She will complete her degree at the end of this year.
A major motivating factor for Scott has been his desire to return to his home in Tennessee; something that he made into a reality this past June. He has stopped using his wheelchair, and now opts for his prosthetics and a walker, but insists that he will stop using the walker very soon. Scott will continue to have corrective surgeries on his arm to improve his mobility and usage.
What lies ahead for WO3 Scott Schroeder and his family is unknown. What is inevitable is that life will continue to change. Scott wrote, “I am not quite ready to start making new plans. I am going to continue moving ahead and looking options until I find something I truly enjoy.”