JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – The Missouri National Guard honored Command Sgt. Maj. James Schulte during a retirement ceremony on Saturday at the Ike Skelton Training Site.
Schulte, who served in a wide variety of positions including drill sergeant and state command sergeant major during his 43-year career, was a model leader and trusted advisor, said Maj. Gen. Steve Danner, the adjutant general.
“You’ve got to have someone that you feel comfortable with and that you feel gives you the best advice,” Danner said. “And that’s what Command Sgt. Maj. Schulte has done these last years, not only professionally but as a friend.
“When I needed somebody to talk to, or discuss some tough decisions with, I always knew I could turn to my senior enlisted advisor and we could sit down over a cup of coffee and really talk about what we had to do, why we had to it, and why it was best for the Guard as a whole. That’s been a comfort to me and I really appreciated that.”
Several groups, including command sergeants major from neighboring states, honored Schulte’s distinguished career.
“Jim was always the voice of reason,” said Command Sgt. Maj. Richard J. Burch, a former command sergeant major of the Army National Guard. “Trust me, when we got in a room full of state command sergeants major, there was plenty of bias, there was plenty of attitude in the room. But you could always count on Jim to be the calming voice in the crowd – the voice of reason – to ground everybody to reality.”
During his retirement speech, Schulte talked about the return of the Citizen-Soldier to a place of prominence and respect in the public eye..
“We all know where we were Sept. 11, 2001,” Schulte said. “It’s a day none of us will ever forget. It’s a day that changed us, changed our country.”
Schulte praised the service and commitment of those who wear the uniform today.
“A basic commitment is six years,” Schulte said. “Everybody here today has volunteered or re-enlisted knowing they were going to get the call and that they were going to serve their country overseas. And we’re still at over 100 percent strength. I couldn’t be more proud of this organization and all of you in it.”
Schulte honored fallen Missouri Guardsmen – Sgt. 1st Class Michael T. Fuga and Sgt. Denis D. Kisseloff – saying they embodied greatness for volunteering to serve in a time of war.
He also talked about Spc. Junior Bombard and Sgt. Tim Bridges who rescued a 93-year-old woman whose car was swept up in flood waters during the 2011 southeast Missouri floods.
“Without a moment’s hesitation, two of our Soldiers stopped their Humvee, ran the wench cable out, and waded out into that current and rescued her,” he said. “They never thought twice about the risk.”
He talked about Spc. Dennis Osborn, an off-duty Missouri Guardsman who, during the Joplin tornado, helped people get to the safest places in a Home Depot before he lost his life.
“Warriors don’t go where they’re needed because they hate what’s in front of them,” Schulte said. “We go because we love what’s behind us more, because this country is worth it.”
Schulte, of St. Louis, assumed duties as the state command sergeant major – the top enlisted position in the Missouri Army National Guard – on Oct. 15, 2009. During a change of responsibility ceremony earlier Saturday, Command Sgt. Maj. Will Pierce officially succeeded Schulte as the Missouri Guard’s next command sergeant major.
“It has been my honor to serve all of the Soldiers in Missouri. I want to thank them and thank Maj. Gen. Danner for giving me this opportunity,” Schulte said. “Sgt. Maj. Pierce is an excellent choice and will provide the leadership needed as the organization continues to move forward.”
Schulte enlisted in March 1970. He completed basic training and infantry training before being assigned to drill sergeant duties in the U.S. Army Reserve. His assignments in the Missouri National Guard have included training and operations at battalion, brigade and state headquarters levels as well as battalion command sergeant major. He has served two combat tours in Afghanistan, first as an embedded trainer to the Afghan National Army and on the advance team for the first Agribusiness Development Team.
Schulte has two children and resides with his wife, Janelle, at the Sand Spring Ranch in Callaway County.
For more information about the Missouri National Guard, please call 1-800-GoGuard or visit www.moguard.com. Photo submitted.