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Air Force Captain Remembers Classmate Who Died In Afghanistan


And on this Memorial Day, we're hearing some of your stories of the people who died while serving in the military. Air Force Captain Myles Smith told us about one of the people he is thinking of today - First Lieutenant Roslyn Schulte. When they first met, Schulte was a year ahead of him at the Air Force Academy in a Russian language class.

CAPTAIN MYLES SMITH: We sat next to each other, and so we oftentimes were partnered up. And if I have to be honest, I perhaps was a little bit better - so trying to explain things to her in the best way possible with also this weird sort of artificial cadet dynamic, knowing that she is this upperclassman and I am this brand new freshman. So you have any 18-year-old who's supposed to call this 19-year-old ma'am and yes, ma'am. And I don't know if I was able to help at all, but we got through it (laughter).

She was somebody that you wanted to be around, always had a smile on her face and positivity. And I certainly don't claim to have been her best friend or known her as well as a lot of other people, but you definitely - if you were at the Academy during that time, you absolutely knew who Ros (ph) was.

So when she graduated, the Air Force told her that she was going to be an intelligence officer. And when I graduated a year later, I also was an intel officer and did the same training. So we were in the same sort of community of intel officers. She was in Afghanistan, training Afghan forces. So this was 2009.

I remember shortly after I had heard the news that I was going to be going to Iraq pretty soon, I got an email - I'm not sure if it was from my squadron commander, but it was somebody in my chain of command - that wanted to get us together and tell the officers in the squadron and say, hey, this is the news we've gotten; I wanted to let you all know before you see it in the news or on the Internet that one of our own has been killed by roadside a bomb in Afghanistan.

I don't know all the details, but she was en route between bases, and it was a roadside bomb laid by Taliban that struck their convoy. It really hit me hard because she was one of our own but also the first person that I had known personally and had a close relationship with who had made - yeah, who had made the ultimate sacrifice.

From time to time, that memory kind of will creep in. When maybe you want to not put in 100 percent or you want to slack off, I think about Ros. And she helps put things back into perspective and that the Air Force has certain core values. And one of them is service before self, and that's what Ros embodied.

SHAPIRO: That's Air Force Captain Myles Smith remembering First Lieutenant Roslyn Schulte. She was the first female graduate of the Air Force Academy to die in Afghanistan or Iraq. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.