Reserve wing mourns loss of civil engineer

  • Published
  • 507th Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

TINKER AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. -- A senior non-commissioned officer in the 507th Civil Engineer Squadron here passed away June 9 at his home in Pawnee, Oklahoma.


Senior Master Sgt. John Schulze, former superintendent of the pavement and construction section, 507th CES, served a combined 32 years in the Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve. He served with distinction, and deployed in support of Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield.


Schulze is survived by his wife, Lera; his eldest son, Ethan, and his wife Jessica and their daughter, Katarina; and his youngest son, Ryan.


“Our heartfelt sympathies and condolences go out to the Schulze family,” said 507th CES commander, Maj. Kenneth Joseph. “We are deeply saddened by this tragic loss and are here for the family and friends during this difficult time.”


A viewing will be held from 5-8 p.m., June 15 at the Poteet Funeral Home, 600 Illinois Street, Pawnee, Oklahoma, 74058.


Services will be held at 10:00 a.m., June 16 at the Christ Lutheran Church, 1301 North 7th Street, Perry, Oklahoma, 73077, with burial to follow at the Highland Cemetery.


Instead of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Christ Lutheran Church in Perry or to the National Veteran's Foundation.


"The 507th Air Refueling Wing mourns the loss of a valued member of our Okie team and we extend our deepest condolences," said 507th Air Refueling Wing commander, Col. Douglas Gullion. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family.” 


Anyone needing assistance or someone to talk to can contact a 507th Air Refueling Wing chaplain at 405-229-0473, or the Director of Psychological Health, Jacqie Falkner, at 580-649-8393.  To speak to a chaplain in person, the 72nd Air Base Wing chaplain can be reached at 405-734-2111.


Schulze was born in 1963 in Stillwater, Oklahoma. He grew up in a military family; his father was a World War II veteran and his brother served in Vietnam. The youngest of four boys, he grew up on a farm, played football and excelled in agricultural activities. He graduated from Pawnee High School in Pawnee, Oklahoma, in 1982.


Schulze graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science from Oklahoma State University in 1987. He was a member of the OSU Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps program, earning the distinction of outstanding freshman cadet. Schulze was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force on active duty in July 1987.


While in college, John met his wife, Lera, and together they transferred to Mather Air Force Base, Sacramento, California, so John could start navigator training.


Due to unforeseen circumstances, he was unable to complete navigator training, so he decided to enlist to serve his country. In 1989, Airman First Class Schulze completed basic military training at Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas, followed by construction equipment operator training school at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, where he earned the distinction of being selected as the red rope for his squadron.


In 1989, he was assigned to the 52nd Civil Engineer Squadron, Spangdahlem Air Force Base, Germany, where he was promoted early, or “below the zone,” to senior airman. He assisted the 52nd CES in earning the Curtis LeMay CE Award, one of the highest honors for rapid runway repair in U.S. Air Forces Europe. 


In 1992, Senior Airman Schulze joined the 823rd Red Horse Expeditionary Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Florida. Schulze assisted with the humanitarian mission, Hurricane Andrew Cleanup, in 1992, completed asphalt paving projects in Newport News, Virginia, and served as vehicle NCOIC in support of squadron operations at Diego Garcia and in Mogadishu, Somalia.


In 1994, he transferred to the 138th Civil Engineer Squadron, Tulsa Air National Guard Base, Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he was promoted to staff sergeant.  


He was called to duty in 1996 to help recover the wreckage of a Tulsa Air National Guard fighter jet that crashed not far from an elementary school in Skiatook, Oklahoma. Schulze participated in more than 25 operational readiness exercises and inspections in Gulfport, Mississippi, 1998-2011, and assisted his squadron in achieving several excellent ratings throughout the years, which also included eight trips to the Silver Flag exercise site in Florida.


In 1998, Schulze was promoted to technical sergeant and was selected as NCO of the Year for the 138th CES.  Schulze deployed to Sembach and Ramstein Air Bases in Germany, to Dover Air Base, Delaware, and performed joint exercises with British Forces in Waterford, England. In 2000, Schulze deployed to Prince Sultan Air Base, Saudi Arabia, as a crane operator, where he helped refurbish the security systems of the base and supported the U-2 reconnaissance flying mission.

While stationed in Saudi Arabia, Schulze was attached to the 363rd Expeditionary Civil Engineering Squadron, which received a Distinguished Unit with Valor Award. Schulze then deployed to San Diego to support security operations and road and fence maintenance for the U.S. southern border wall.


In 2003, Schulze was promoted to master sergeant. In 2007, he deployed to Nevatim Air Base, Israel, where his unit assisted the Israeli military in a land reclamation project and the construction of an F-16 munitions facility. 


In August 2011, Master Sergeant Schulze and his youngest son, Ryan, enlisted in the Air Force Reserve, joining the 507th Civil Engineer Squadron. He immediately volunteered for an operational readiness inspection to Alpena, Michigan, where he completed the mission and helped the group receive an excellent rating.


In 2013, Schulze was promoted to senior master sergeant, taking on the responsibility as superintendent over the heavy equipment and structures shop of the 507th CES. With the 507th, Schulze worked with the Field Engineering Readiness Laboratory at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and led annual training to Mississippi and annual training at YMCA of the Rockies.


Senior Master Sgt. Schulze graduated from Senior NCO Leadership School at Tinker and Senior NCO Academy via correspondence.


Schulze’s decorations include: The Air Force Meritorious Service Medal; the Air Force Achievement Medal with four oak leaf clusters; the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor with three oak leaf clusters; the National Defense Service Medal; the Armed Forces Reserve Medal; the Humanitarian Service Medal; Nuclear Deterrence Operations Service Medal with ‘N’ Device; the Air Force Overseas Ribbon Long; the Air Force Expeditionary Service Ribbon; Air Force Longevity Service; the Small Arms Expert Marksmanship Ribbon (Rifle); and the Air Force Training Ribbon.