Stephen Schroeder (Keynote Speaker)
Stephen grew up in Saginaw, Michigan and attended Michigan Lutheran Seminary, graduating in 1989. He continued his education at Northwestern College and subsequently attended Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in 1998, earning a Master of Divinity, and becoming a WELS Lutheran minister upon graduation.
Steve’s first call was to serve as a tutor at Luther Preparatory School in Watertown, WI where he taught sophomore religion and was assistant wrestling coach as well as dorm staff supervisor.
In 2000 Steve enlisted as a Chinese linguist in the U.S. Army. This path took him from Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri to the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, California to Schofield Barracks in Hawaii. From there, Steve switched gears to U.S. Army aviation to become a Black Hawk pilot, attending flight school at Fort Rucker, Alabama.
Upon completion of Flight School, Steve was assigned to the 12th Combat Aviation Brigade in Germany. He deployed to the Middle East three times, twice to Iraq and once to Afghanistan. At that time, he also became a Black Hawk Instructor Pilot for his unit. Steve and his family moved back to Fort Rucker to teach flight school for three years before being assigned to the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade based out of Fort Campbell, KY. He deployed for a fourth time with the Screaming Eagles of the 101st, returning to Afghanistan for another rotation before coming back to Kentucky in 2016.
On January 31, 2017, Steve was conducting a training mission with his crew, assisting in a fast-roping exercise at Fort Campbell. During that exercise his helicopter suffered a catastrophic crash, leaving three of the crew members in critical condition. Steve suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), a cervical break, nine broken ribs, a lacerated liver, broken left arm, broken right foot as well as second and third-degree burns. The injury affecting him the most was a spinal cord injury which left him paralyzed from the waist down. He spent the next four months in the hospital and after release another nine months doing full time rehabilitation to recover as much as he could. Although still in a wheelchair, he returned to the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade to perform non-flying duties related to Aviation. Steve’s army career spanned twenty years.
Steve lives in Tampa, FL with his wife of twenty-one years, Sarah and their four children, Lina, Sophia, Veronica and Luke. The Schroeder's are members of Northdale Lutheran Church in Tampa, Florida.
His wife, Sarah, will join Stephen and the other presenters for a panel Q&A before our closing devotion.