Retired Major General Bob Schulte’s story starts in 1955, when he went to South Dakota State University on a scholarship for football and baseball. But, his athleticism clashed with his commitment to ROTC when he was met with a choice during his senior year: go pro, or join the military.
“I was drafted by the Chicago White Sox and had a $30,000 bonus to go play baseball, and I had to report to spring training in March, and that’s the same time I had to go into the military,” Schulte said.
Ultimately, Schulte joined the Army’s Armor Branch and completed the training needed before heading off to Germany with his wife and baby daughter Brenda.
“We got to see all of Europe, my wife and I, when on leave. We went to Paris, on top of the Eiffel tower, Holland. We went all over, and it was a wonderful experience,” Schulte said.
After three years, he was back in Mandan, where he took a job at Cloverdale Foods Company. But something caught his eye on his way in.
“I saw a helicopter, and I said to my wife, ‘You don’t suppose they have helicopters here?’ Long story short, I went out to the army aviation. They did, and I joined the North Dakota National Guard.”
Schulte spent 32 years in the North Dakota National Guard.
“The North Dakota National Guard, Air Guard, and National Guard Army, and the Reserve are some of the finest units in the country,” Schulte said.
But it wouldn’t be long before Schulte took a new role as Deputy Commander General of the 6th Army, a two star promotion that let him and his wife live on the Presidio in San Francisco.
“I was a boy in ROTC from South Dakota, and now there I am as Deputy Commanding General of 6th Army.”
While many experiences stood out to him during his 39 years in the military, having lunch with Queen Elizabeth tops the list.
“She says ‘Where are you from General? and I said North Dakota. What do you think her answer was. She says ‘President Roosevelt, Medora.’ I couldn’t believe it,” Schulte said.
All in all, Schulte says he’s blessed. He has four kids, and credits his wife for a lifetime of support.
“I have a tremendous wife. We’re going to be married 63 years. My wife is a wonderful lady,” Schulte said.
While he sometimes thinks back on his chance to catch for the White Sox, he says he will always remember what he learned serving.
“It doesn’t make a difference what color we are or whatever. We have a job to do. And that’s what I learned as a young man: to see how everybody works together and accomplishes the mission. That’s something I will never forget. The military made Bob Schulte a better person,” Schulte said.
Now, Schulte says he spends time with his wife in Mandan, where they’re doing their best to stay home, and keeping busy with card games and puzzles.