Out of Sorrow Comes Service: Why One Wisconsin Member Continues to Serve in CAP
Milwaukee, Wis. – We often ask why someone joins Civil Air Patrol (CAP) and for every person there is a different reason. Lieutenant Colonel Gregory Schulz, PhD, Wisconsin Wing joined CAP in 1997 with his son, Stephan as many adult members tend to do. But he stayed in CAP for a reason that most people never dream of.
Many have endured the loss of a loved one, but how many have taken that loss and turned it into service for one’s country as a volunteer? Schulz, the director for professional development for the Wisconsin Wing, has taken the loss of his son, Cadet Master Sergeant Stephan Schulz as the motivating factor to continue his service in CAP.
Stephan set the bar for his father with his bravery and leadership skills. Not one to bemoan his condition, a complicated chronic autoimmune disease that eventually lead to his passing away, Stephan poured himself into his squadron, the former Mitchell Composite Squadron #9, never feeling sorry for himself.
Stephan wanted to be a pilot and loved CAP. While taking glider instruction in the Illinois Wing and before he could realize his dream of soloing, he was taken from his parents’ arms after two failed liver transplants. They buried him in his blues which Stephan so carefully prepared for unit meetings and even a few National events, with solo wings in hand. The pain and agony that Schulz and his wife Paula experienced was immeasurable. This was not the first time they had suffered such a loss. They had previously lost a daughter to a similarly fatal disease.
Schulz, Professor of Philosophy at the Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee, Wis. as well as an ordained Lutheran pastor who remains quite active in congregational preaching and teaching, took the loss of Stephan and his son’s love of CAP and turned it into a life of service as a living memorial of his son.
For more than ten years now since his son’s death, Schulz continues to serve as character development and aerospace education officer, most recently for the Timmerman Composite Squadron in Milwaukee. Because of his son’s love of flying, Schulz learned to fly and soloed. He also qualified to as an aircrew member in search and rescue missions (SAR) and serves by teaching and mentoring the youth in CAP, as well as instructing at staff colleges in the Great Lakes and North Central Regions.
His latest book speaks, among other matters, of Stephan and CAP. The Problem of Suffering; A Father’s Hope, is being released in January 2012. A chapter in the book demonstrates his son’s love of the organization and how it helped him grow as a cadet and as a person. The companion CD, titled The Problem of Suffering: A Companion and Resource for Pastors and Other Christian Caregivers, is dedicated to his colleagues from the Mitchell Squadron and the entire Wisconsin Wing. The book was written as a candid look at the suffering one endures, how he got through it and what he learned because of it.
Schulz learned that the pain and loss that he and Paula endured was for a reason and now knows the purpose of that suffering. He understands that the youth of today are tomorrow’s leaders and has seen his two surviving children become just that with their service in the Air Force and the community as their memorials to their CAP brother.
Every Memorial Day at Wisconsin Memorial Park, Timmerman Composite Squadron visits a grave with a headstone that features the CAP seal. At the grave of this cadet Master Sergeant, the cadets of today are reminded of the dedication of those in the past; a profound occasion to remember that we in CAP can ourselves be a living memorial in service to our country and our communities.
To read more about this experience and for more information on The Problem of Suffering, both the book and the resource CD will be available from Concordia Publishing House (800.325.3040) at www.cph.org.