U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. -- On May 20, 2009, 1st Lt. Roslyn ‘Roz’ Littmann Schulte became the first female Air Force Academy graduate to be killed in action in the war on terror. Lieutenant Schulte and Shawn Montgomery Pine, a contractor and retired Army lieutenant colonel, were killed when their convoy was hit by a improvised explosive device.
In honor of their daughter’s sacrifice and legacy, Schulte's parents Bob and Susie Schulte have made a trip to the Air Force Academy every May since 2010 to recognize an outstanding cadet first class who embodies their daughter's “impeccable character, unwavering leadership and spirit of service.” This year’s pilgrimage is especially poignant given it marks 10 years since Roz’s passing.
This year’s 1st Lt. Roslyn L. Schulte Cadet Award and Recognition Ceremony will host keynote speaker, retired Army Col. David Astin, also a member of their convoy on that fateful day, who vowed to never forget the events that transpired or the sacrifice his sister and brother in arms made that day.
“Those of us who witnessed the tragic events vowed to never forget the sacrifice of our fallen friends," he said. "As part of that vow, I went to St. Louis in November 2009 -- which was roughly three months after my return from Afghanistan -- to meet Bob and Susie Schulte, Roz’s parents. They opened their home to me and we have been friends ever since. I would go beyond that to say I consider them to be family. They are truly remarkable people, and their generosity of spirit never ceases to amaze me.”
Roz’s indomitable spirit and leadership capability was recognized then by her peers and continues to make meaningful impacts on cadets and members of the profession of arms a decade after her passing. Bob Schulte recalled that Roz had always been a natural leader from her days in preschool coordinating parades, her time as an inspiring teammate and leader on her lacrosse team and wing staff at the Academy, and as an intelligence officer. Her father said his daughter liked to be in control and that the Academy offered her many opportunities to hone her skills as a leader.
When she died, the family received hundreds of letters from those who had served with Roz. The letters noted how “she reacted to them sympathetically -- not as a dictator but as a cooperator. She cared about them, she remembered where they were from.
"You expect to get well-written letters from a general or a colonel, but not a handwritten letter from the lance corporal who guarded the gate at Camp Eggers,” Bob Schulte said. "As her teammates and friends stated, 'We liked to follow Roz. We trusted her, we knew that it would be fun and we wouldn’t get in trouble.”'
Astin also noted Roz’s continuing legacy and inspired leadership.
“The example Roz set reinforced my belief that inspirational leaders have three common qualities: competence, commitment and caring," he said. "Roz had those qualities in abundance, and she was one of the most remarkable junior leaders I have ever known. Simply put, she inspired everyone with whom she served, and that is the true mark of a leader’s success. Leaders don’t divide, they bring people together. Roz continues to do that, a decade after her passing, which speaks volumes about the tremendous impact she had on those who served with her.”
The community honors Roslyn’s legacy at her high school, the John Burroughs School in St. Louis Missouri with a scholarship, as well as an annual Spirit Award for fun activities during the school’s spirit week.
Roz was inducted into the Missouri Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 2018.
This year’s annual 1st Lt Roslyn Schulte Award for Exemplary Cadet Character and Leadership will be May 28 in Polaris Hall and will recognize five cadets nominated for the award.