MENOMONIE — Jordan Schumacher has been a lot of places and done a lot of things in the past nine years since graduating from UW-Stout.
Thanks to his career as a pilot in the military, he has served and lived in the states of Washington, Kansas, Arizona, Alabama and Georgia, and he was deployed to Afghanistan, where he piloted the OH-58 Delta helicopter in support of U.S. ground troops.
The Wisconsin native has returned home this fall, to the state where he was born and to his alma mater. Schumacher is chair of the military science department at UW-Stout and an assistant professor, teaching students in ROTC, Reserve Officer Training Corps for the U.S. Army.
“It feels like I’m right back home,” said Schumacher, who grew up in Weyauwega in east-central Wisconsin. He loves to hunt and fish. “Wisconsin is a great state, and I appreciate it even more since I’ve been away.”
He’s excited about the chance to use his experiences to help other young men and women — like the cadet he was as an undergraduate — take advantage of the opportunities to become leaders and serve their country.
A member of the Blue Devil football team in 2006 and 2007, he joined UW-Stout’s ROTC program in 2008 after a chance meeting with some UW-Stout cadets and the program leader at the time, Lt. Col. Scott Bolstad. He already was in the National Guard, following in the footsteps of his father and a brother, with a Stevens Point unit.
“I got to know the cadets, the programs and the people (in the UW-Stout ROTC program) and never turned back,” he said.
ROTC began in 2005 at UW-Stout. “The program has made a ton of advances, and the Northwoods Battalion is one of the better ones in the U.S. It’s just great to come back and help make the cadets here successful. ROTC is one of the best leadership programs a college can offer,” he said.
Schumacher graduated in 2010 in business administration. In the ROTC program, he was a distinguished cadet, in the top 1% of cadets in the U.S.
Choosing aviation for his military career path, he attended flight school in Fort Riley, Kan., and by 2013 he was in Kandahar, Afghanistan, flying attack reconnaissance missions with the OH-58D helicopter. He flew 15 to 20 hours a week over the course of four months in support of ground force commanders.
“It’s definitely eye-opening. It was a rewarding job to support ground forces in a close manner,” he said.
After his deployment, he underwent captain’s career course training to lead a company and was promoted to captain in 2015. He then trained to fly fixed wing aircraft for the Army, including the C-12 and MC-12 aircraft. He was stationed at Hunter Army Airfield in Savannah, Ga., ultimately commanding an aerial intelligence flight company this past May. There, he deployed three more times to various areas of operation.
Returning to campus
A “career broadening” assignment brought him back to the ROTC to teach, landing at UW-Stout with the “luck of the draw,” he said. A cadet command teaching course prepped him for classroom teaching.
“I’m a big proponent of development — you learn from your success and mistakes — and helping the cadets find their strengths and weaknesses, what kind of leader they want to be,” he said.
UW-Stout is part of the ROTC Northwoods Battalion with UW-Stevens Point, UW-River Falls and UW-Eau Claire. Upon successful completion of the ROTC program and graduation from college, cadets receive a commission as a second lieutenant in the Army, the Army Reserve or the Army National Guard.
Schumacher is teaching sophomores and juniors in cadet leadership courses, bringing personal experiences and current military practices to the classroom. So far, so good. “Students are receptive and eager to learn. I love having the chance to mold the minds of future junior officers,” he said.
He and his wife, Jessica, a 2011 UW-Stout graduate in human development and family studies, live in Eau Claire with their two children.
Lt. Col. Wendy R. Tokach of UW-Stevens Point, director of the Northwoods Battalion, says Schumacher is a perfect fit for UW-Stout.
“We were quite pleased to bring an alumni of the UW-Stout ROTC program back to Wisconsin to instruct our cadets,” Tokach said. “He and his wife, Jessica, are proud Blue Devils who are supportive and ingrained in the school and community. He not only sets a high standard of what an Army officer should be, but he’s an excellent mentor to his cadets.”
Schumacher expects to be at UW-Stout for three years, and during that time he will work on a master’s degree in information and communication technologies through UW-Stout’s Graduate School.