Friday, May 11, 2012

Remembering LTC Schumaker

He would have said "Alison, does this picture make me look fat?"
Monday, I went to a funeral for a dear friend and leader, LTC Schumaker.  I didn't speak at the funeral, but if I had, here is what I would want to say about him:

I was honored to have served as LTC Schumaker's S-1/Adjutant during his deployment to Iraq in 2005 and 2006.  The adjutant and the battalion commander have a special bond, and our relationship was no exception.  For two years, he was like a father to me, watching over me, curious about what I was doing, and acting as a true mentor.

Today, at his funeral, words were spoken to express that he was a great leader, father, and husband.  And all of that is true.  However, it's the little things in life that count, and it's the funny, little things that I remember most about him.

He loved mentoring young officers.  Whether being around a bunch of young captains made him feel young, I don't know, but he really enjoyed interacting with us. 

But, he didn't always make it easy.  I remember that his office was down the hall from mine, and when he wanted to talk to me, instead of shooting me an email or calling me on the phone, he would just scream "ALISON!" at the top of his lungs.  Partly, I think, so he could really tell me something, and partly, I think, because he secretly enjoyed that I would have to stop what I was doing, leave my office and scamper down the hall to see what he wanted. 

When we were deployed in Iraq, it was his turn to go on R&R and he got down to Kuwait to find that the OTHER battalion's adjutant had pre-sent her commander's orders to Kuwait so that he could stay in the special tent with all the high ranking officers.  I, of course, hadn't done this, and he was not-so-pleased to be sharing his sleeping space with a bunch of awed privates and specialists who couldn't believe that a lieutenant colonel was staying with them. 

But, that's not to say he always followed protocol.  He would walk on my left (the side usually reserved for the lower ranking officers) when we walked down the street simply because it was chivalrous for the man to walk on the street side of the woman.  I didn't get used to special treatment though, as not soon after that, he informed me that my boyfriend (now husband) was no longer welcome to ride in his car to lunch because he had voted for John Kerry in the last presidential election.  I thought it was funny, but, you know, my husband never again got to ride in that car...

It's the small funny stories that I cherish and remember, and I have many many more.  I hope, if anyone reads this, that you're inspired to remember your own little stories about LTC Schumaker and urge you to constantly seek out those little moments in life to cherish.


Andrea said...

I read this and although I didn't know him, you reminded me to seek out those little things.

Alison Beach said...

The little things are definitely what's important, and worth remembering!

Anonymous said...

LTC Schumaker was my BC when I was stationed in Germany.He was a lead from the front type of person and pushed us to train hard in order for us to have the skills to survive combat. We all came back that year...LTC Schumaker was so proud of us that he cried in front of the entire Battalion...It was one of the most heartwarming moments in my career, to feel that our commander genuinely loved us...I really respected him for his courage and leadership. I will never forget my Commander... May God Bless his entire family.

SFC Jose F. Valencia
A Co. 32d Sig BN 2004-2007

Alison Beach said...

Thanks for posting, SFC Valencia! I still miss him :-(