Darrol Schroeder, Major General (USAF Retired)

darrol schroeder, major general (usaf retired)
Darrol G. Schroeder, 88, Fargo, ND died peacefully at home on Sunday, March 3, 2019 surrounded by his loving family. Darrol was born at home on June 25, 1930 to Robert and Julia Schroeder of Davenport, ND. He attended school in Davenport and Fargo. His parents spent the winter in the warm, dry Arizona climate for brother Paul’s health, and Darrol stayed behind with family and friends, graduating from Fargo Central in 1948. When the family returned to Davenport, Darrol would ride the train home to enjoy weekends on the family farm. Darrol met the love of his life, Donna ‘Jean’ Nellermoe, on a ski trip with the North Dakota State University (NDSU) Ski Club. Darrol, a freshman helped carry Jean, a senior to an awaiting car after breaking her leg in two places. He pursued a degree in Animal Husbandry, was active in Theta Chi Fraternity and enlisted in the North Dakota Air National Guard in 1947. Darrol graduated from NDSU and received his commission through the Reserve Officer Training Corps program. Darrol and Jean were married at Olivet Lutheran Church, Fargo ND on Thursday, February 6, 1952. The newlyweds drove their Chevy convertible, loaded with all of their belongings to Spence AFB, Moultrie, GA where Darrol reported for Primary Pilot Training four days later. Darrol completed U.S Air Force Pilot Training in 1954 at Bryan Air Force Base, Texas as well as Advanced Gunnery School at Nellis AFB, Nevada. His initial assignment was with the 388th Fighter Bomber Wing, Clovis, New Mexico. In 1955, he flew a single seat, single engine F86 (his favorite plane) across the ocean to Bitburg Air Base, Germany and in 1956 was assigned to Etain Air Base, France. In 1957, Darrol wrote a letter to his father in Davenport asking if he could come back to join the family farm and subsequently requested release from active duty. Upon return, he rejoined the North Dakota Air National Guard in March of that same year. He and Jean made their family home in Davenport. In August of 1980 General Schroeder was appointed Assistant to the Commander in Chief, North American Aerospace Defense Command. He received his second star when he was promoted to Major General on Dec. 4, 1980. The Secretary of Defense appointed him to serve on the Reserve Forces Policy Board in March of 1983. In June of 1983 General Schroeder was appointed as Air National Guard Assistant to the Commander in Chief, United States Air Forces in Europe, where as the Air National Guard Assistant, he was a member of the USAFE Staff. General Schroeder retired from the Air National Guard in June of 1987, after 39 years of military service. From his boyhood days laying in a ditch chewing on a piece of grass watching ‘prop planes’ fly over, to his first airplane ride in the Aeronca Champ, Darrol was hooked on airplanes. Next to his family, his greatest love was flying. During his military service, General Schroeder flew more than 5000 hours in Fighter Aircraft such as the F-80, F-86, F-94, F-101, F-102 and F-4. He also checked out in the F-104, A-7, F-16 and F-15. He has been a test pilot, instructor pilot and flight examiner. He has more than 22,000 total hours and has flown over 130 different types of military and civilian aircraft. The FAA presented him with the "Master Pilot" award in 2005. General Schroeder has received numerous military decorations and awards including the Distinguished Service Medal, Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit with cluster, Meritorious Service Medal with one oak leaf cluster, Air Force Commendation Medal, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with two oak leaf clusters, Army Occupation Medal (Germany), the Republic of Korea Cheonsu Medal and the Combat Readiness Medal with three oak leaf clusters. In addition to his distinguished military career, Darrol was a partner in a successful farming operation, president of Schroeder Aviation Inc., Davenport Fertilizer and Chemical Co., and an owner of Carlson Travel Agency. He was active in local civic organizations and has served on the board of directors of such organizations as US Bank of North Dakota for 45 years, Lear Siegler Management Services Corp., and Merit Care Health Systems where as Chairman he spearheaded the merger of a Not for Profit with a For Profit organization. On two occasions, General Schroeder served as the Interim Commandant of the North Dakota Veteran’s Home. Darrol is a past member of the North Dakota State Aeronautics Commission. He served as Director of Business Development of UND Aerospace and served on the nominating committee of the National Aviation Hall of Fame. In September of 1987 Governor George Sinner presented General Schroeder with the North Dakota National Leadership Award of Excellence. He was also an inductee of the North Dakota Aviation Hall of Fame. General Schroeder was honored as Military Person of the year by the Fargo Chamber of Commerce. For more than 20 years, he served as co-chair of the Fargo AirSho and was a founding member of the Fargo Air Museum. Darrol was a warm, patient and loving father and grandfather. He always set the example by being the man who did the right thing for all of the right reasons. He was a community leader, successful businessman, senior military leader and at the same time, a thoughtful and caring neighbor. He and Jean traveled the world and were happiest spending time with family and friends at their home on Pelican Lake, MN. General Schroeder is survived by his daughter Terry Schroeder Scherling (Alexandria, VA); Grandson Nick (Robyn) Scherling; Granddaughter Britta (Shawn) Schreiner; four great grandchildren, Maverick and Addison (Addy) Scherling; Alexander (Alex) Petersen and Nora Schreiner; brother, Paul; sister-in-law, Nora (Wandell) Nellermoe; and many other loving nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. He is preceded in death by his lovely wife, Donna Jean; his son, Mark; parents; brother, Howard; sister-in-law, Adele; and brother in law, Wandell. Visitation & Prayer Service: Thursday, March 7, 2019 from 5:00 until 7:00 p.m., with a prayer service at 6:30 pm at Shepherd of the Prairie Moravian Church, 6151 25th St. S., Fargo, ND 58104. Celebration of Darrol’s Life: Friday, March 8, 2019 at 3:00 p.m., Fargo Air Museum, 1609 19th Ave. N., Fargo, ND 58102. Additional Parking is available at the Fargo Dome. Interment will be at Canaan Moravian Church at a later late. Darrol’s family would like to extend their gratitude to the wonderful caregivers Lanette Krinsky; Payton Hester; Kari Dick, Director and the entire Touchmark staff; Hospice of the Red River Valley; and Griswold Home Care. In lieu of flowers, donations in his memory can be made to the Fargo Air Museum, Canaan Moravian Church, or the NDSU Endowment for Improving the Quality of Life for Persons with Dementia and Alzheimer’s.

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Memories Timeline


  1. Friend to all, rest in peace. I will miss you more than you would have ever guessed. Thank you for all you have done for our country. Thank you for your friendship and your mentorship. A true hero! You made the world a much better place. My heart goes out to your family, prayers for finding a way to make it through this transition.

  2. Prayers and Hugs to Terry and the rest of the family. Darrol was an extraordinary man. He and Jean were loving and generous people…creating role models for all of us. Blessed be his memory always. Vickie & Jerry Kub.

  3. What a wonderful man! Every time I’d see Darrol, he had a smile on his face and such enthusiasm for whatever he was talking about. He always asked me how my dad was doing and for me to send him his best. Condolences to his family. And know that he leaves such a legacy throughout our area.

  4. I first met Darrol in 1957 when I was 12 years old. We became best friends immediately! Darrol and Paul were very patient with this young kid that had not been raised on a farm but was willing to learn and work hard. I can’t even recall all of the things that I broke on the farm. I didn’t know that Darrol was afraid of heights until he and I were riding back to the farm on top of bales loaded on a truck. When the load shifted, he dove across the bales and I laughed. He said that you will never see me up on a ladder.

    Darrol enjoyed sneaking up behind other farmers with his airplane as they cultivated or sprayed their fields to scare them stiff. He did that to me many times but soon stopped after I cultivated out a lot of his corn and beans. The funniest thing that I recall ever happening was when I was greasing the combines while getting ready for harvesting. It was a hot day and he came over to see how I was doing with the greasing. He mentioned that Paul and he used to get into grease gun fights when they were kids. I asked him how that was possible because the grease came out so slowly. He took the grease gun from me and slapped the handle down and shot grease all over my white t-shirt. He laughed and said, I’m sorry and dropped the gun down and took off running. I picked up the grease gun and was right after him while spraying grease on the back of his new white shirt that Jean had just purchased for him. When we stopped running he mentioned that Jean was going to be very upset when we went in for lunch and that I shouldn’t laugh because she would be all over us.

    He was right. When she saw the grease on both of us she wanted to know what us two “kids” had been doing. We both hung our head and looked at our plates. When she turn around we gave each other a quick glance and didn’t smile at all for fear that she would chew on us some more.

    I worked long hours with Darrol during the summer for about 6 years and I never once heard him say anything negative about anyone. He was the nicest and kindest person that I have ever met. He was my mentor!

    Terry, Paul and family, I will miss him more than you will ever know. He left me with many wonderful memories. I know that you feel the same way.

  5. Heartfelt condolences and warmest sympathies from Darrol’s friends at the Commemorative Air Force, Minnesota Wing.

  6. Dear Terry, we are so sorry about your Dad’s passing. Last visited with him and paul at the school reunion.

    Truly great friends to my parents who lived next door.(Carl and Ella).

    Thinking of you , Elaine Meszaros Johnson

  7. I had the pleasure of meeting Darrol a year and half ago where I work. He always came in with a smile on his face,and always put a smile on mine. I learned so much about him. Wish I learned more. Thank you for serving sir. Thoughts and prayers are with you and your family

  8. What an amazing legacy! I did remember some of this. My deepest sympathy to you , Terry – Your parents were such wonderful people and I remember them as always being so kind – Slowly , but not slow enough all of us Davenport kiddos are saying goodbye to our parents – I really think of them all together having a reunion! Please know you are in my heart and in my thoughts at this time – Love , Suzi Skaugset Wren

  9. To the Family, so sorry for your loss. Hope you will be comforted in knowing that Darrol has the prospect of being resurrected, healthy (in the flesh), to Paradise Earth just as Jehovah God has promised. In fact , the vast majority will enjoy everlasting life right here on earth as God had intended from the beginning. God’s Kingdom will do this under the rule of Jesus Christ. READ John 5:28, 29, Job 14:14, 15,Psalms 37:29, Matthew 6:9,10, Matthew 5:5 and Revelation 21:2-4 Go To: JW.ORG

  10. Darrol was a wonderful man and will be missed. Memories are so great.
    I feel privileged to have known him.

    God bless all of you.

  11. Terry and family, I am so sorry to hear of Darrol’s passing! I remember him and Jean during the Darling Little Fillies days. They both were always so kind and had smiles on their face! May you find comfort in your memories!

  12. On behalf of the National Aviation Hall of Fame, I would like to send our condolences to Major General Scherling and the entire family of Major General Schroeder. Darrol will be rememberd fondly here in Dayton and he will be missed at the annual Enshrinement where his smile would light up our space. The comfort of his family and friends will remain in our prayers and his desire to see John D. Odegard inducted into the NAHF could yet happen due to Major General Schroeder’s efforts. To be sure, Darrol will not be forgotten at the NAHF.

  13. Dear Terry and Family,
    My heart felt sympathy goes out to you and family. I knew Darrol for almost 40 years, starting at the Air Guard. I really got to know him well when we started the Fargo Air Museum and the faith he had in me to be the first executive director. It was always great to be with Darrol, a man with the warmest smile and voice. I will miss him greatly, but with many wonderful memories.
    Dennis W. Larson
    MSgt. NDANG Ret.

  14. Dear Terry and family;

    We just learned of Darrol’s passing and are in AZ. We are saddened in your loss, but rejoice that he is with his beloved Jean and surely will be forever in paradise. He was a good soldier and airman and served his country well. God bless the memory of one of the finest gentlemen I have ever known.

  15. I will dearly miss the twinkle in his eye, his broad unending smile and the warmness of his handshake. Darrol was one of a kind and someone I will never truly forget.

  16. Dear Terry, thank you for sharing “Dad” with us in Alexandria for the past eighteen years. He brought Don and I joy and humor every time we were together. We’ll miss him so much! Our condolences to Nick, Robyn, and your entire family as well. He touched so many lives, and we’re all better for it. ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.’ Matthew 5:4
    Sending love and hugs.

  17. I will forever recall with gratitude your friendliness and calm demeanor . I was seated with you one sunny day when we taxied your plane on the tarmac to a hanger at FAM. RIP General

  18. Sympathies to Terry and the entire Schroeder Family. Darrol lived a full life of honor and service. He was a blessing to many including his Happy Hooligan comrades. Darrol and Jean made a great team over the years. Rejoice in the good memories.

    Earl and Rosalee Forkner

  19. Terry,

    I would like to express my feelings of sadness, to you and your family, as I personally remember Darrol.

    Getting to know your family, as I became a close friend to Mark while attending Davenport Elementary School, your parents were both such wonderful people. It was with their open arms to allow me to have such memories of going to Pelican Lake, attending my first Bison football game, flying on a Saturday afternoon with your Dad and Mark, employing me in the summers at Schroeder Aviation, and the hospitality he always gave to me.

    His voice and smile will always be remembered along with his kindness and concern for others.
    He was an amazing man.

    God Bless you all.

  20. I remember the first time I met him & his lovely wife, he made me feel so welcome, was very charismatic and had a wink-twinkle in his eye…we are grieving for all of those in the Airsho-family and especially those who knew him the best. Thinking of you all!

  21. I first got to know General Darrol while working at the Air Museum on the BT-13. He kept encouraging me to continue with the restoration. He was to be the test pilot when it was finished and I was to fly with him. When I presented him with a BT-13 wings lapel pin, he was thrilled! His friendship was a blessing and made my life richer.

  22. Hey Terry, when I got to work yesterday and heard Darrol had passed my entire day was crushed. I felt like my entire day was taken from me. I will missed him dearly and always cherish the necklace he gave me for my daughter from Jean. Can’t wait for her to be mature so I can tell her the story of the necklace and tel her how wonderful Darrol was! I pray God comfort you and the family.

  23. I worked for Darrol and Jean at the Travel agency. They were the most kind people I have ever met. Prayers to everyone for the loss.

  24. Very sorry to hear of Darrol’s passing. I only knew him through my time on the AirSho Committee and always found him to be warm and engaging. He will be missed by all who knew him. What a wonderful man and legacy.

  25. Terry and family, Your dad helped grow the Odegard School. For his support and enthusiasm, I will be forever grateful. He and John, connected by their love of flying, dreamed big and promoted aviation in many ways all over the world. I was honored to know Both your father and your mother and to have shared some travels with them. Darrol helped me with many projects after John’s passing. He was charming in every way and definitely a legend in North Dakota aviation. My thoughts are with you as you celebrate his life. Diane Odegard

  26. Message from South Africa.

    Please know our caring thoughts are with you in this time of grief. Just a very brief history of how we came to know the Schroeder family and many other friends in North Dakota In 1980, it was a result of Darrol, Jean and some friends who decided to come to South Africa. Prior to the trip, Darrol called The Piper Aircraft company and asked them if they could put him in touch with any AG Operators in South Africa. Well Piper put him onto Rautenbach Aerial Spraying. They came over we visited with them and Darrol invited us to come over, which we did in 1980 Clive, Ivan and I (Jake) took a trip to the States and visited with Darrol and his pilot friends. In 1982 Darrol offered me a seat and I took it!! From that point on we had Dean Solms, Paul and laurel Satran, John and Christie Andvic and Dannie Heuer visit us. Darrol was instrumental in all this happening. I I came back again in 1984 with Carol and our 4 year old daughter Melissa, what an amazing time. Lived through a tornado which is quite a story on its own. Once again thank you for making our stays with you all in North Dakota. Darrol was one of the most special people we have ever met. Rest In Peace Darrol . Jake Carol and Melissa.

  27. Dear Terry and Nick, I have not seen you for many years but would run into your Mom and Dad when I would go to the clinic in Fargo. Darrol seemed to be “happy” all of the time. Darrol offered his plane to John and I to go to Minot to pick up our adopted baby, Heather in 1975, he didn’t have to do that but I think he was as excited about the trip as much as we were. May you always feel God and your Mom and Dad’s arms wrapped around you always. Love and Hugs Terry. Fly High Darrol, Job Well Done! Always. Kristie (Andvik) Berg

  28. Terry and Family:
    It was indeed my pleasure to know the General and your mother as well thru the ND Air National Guard. They were two of the finest persons I have known in my life. General Schroeder was indeed a true professional in all of his many endeavors. I recall a near tragic incident when he was flying a T-33 and the jettison switch for a wing-tip fuel tank failed and dropped within 3/4 mile of our home! We had a laugh about that “bombing mission”! – It is just one of those quirky memories!

    He will certainly be missed especially in the aviation community. God bless his memory. God speed General!

    Doug Warnecke, Maj. NDANG/USAFR (Ret)

  29. Terry, Nick, and Britta – and families,

    Our thoughts and prayers are with you as this chapter of your lives close. Darrol, and Jean, were like family to me. They both meant the world to me. Jean was a great travel companion, and of course a wonderful boss. I loved managing their agency for so many years. Darrol always had a twinkle in his eye and a smile on his face. What a wonderful, kind, and generous man. I loved how he took care of Jean and always had her best interest at heart. I loved his stories.

    Quite a few years back he took my dad (Tod Gunkelman) up flying – in the exact type of plane my dad had flown in WWII. Then he let dad take the reins and fly again – it had been years since dad had piloted a plane. It was the BEST day for my dad. Darrol was so genuine and generous!

    I also have great memories of Darrol in Key West – he was here for a conference but snuck out long enough to join Dave and I for dinner one evening. It was so fun to catch up – although we missed Jean. That was probably 2006 or 2007.

    I could go on and on about how wonderful Darrol was, how wonderful Jean was. You have your own memories and know they were wonderful parents and grandparents! How Jean loved her grandbabies!

    I wish I could be there for Darrol’s service, but know I am there in spirit.

    Barb (Gunkelman) Herzog

  30. sorry to hear of Darrols passing. Iwent to work for him in 1978 as a young man. He taught me things I can remember to this day.

  31. Condolences to the Schroeder family from Darrol’s Theta Chi brothers.

  32. MG Darrol (Cork) Schroeder was one of my greatest mentors. He was not rank conscious, all that mattered was that you were an aviator and a “Happy Hooligan”. The Composite Air National Guard Alert commitment “Creek Klaxon” at Ramstein Air Base, Germany in the mid 80’s would not have possible if he had not been on the USAFE staff as the Air National Guard Assistant at that time. We had many good times and flights together, I will miss him always.

  33. Larger than life but not when you talked to him. Then he was like everyone else. Fly west and fair winds!

  34. Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. Gen Schroeder legacy will continue to guide today’s AIr National Guard members.

  35. Terry –
    I was so sorry to see your Dad’s obituary. I have been so removed from ND for years, so have missed seeing many things.

    I remember the many happy times at your house and being so proud of all you have accomplished. I remember babysitting you on the farm many, many years ago. We usually found something fun to do.

    I currently live in St. Paul. My daughter lives not to far away (she is the traveler and spent two years at Uppsala University in Sweden getting her MS degree in global public health), my youngest son and family (2 year old son) live in Champlain, and my oldest son lives near Marquette, MI in the UP. We love to go and visit there — he has a 6th grade daughter and a 1st grade son.

    I worked at Bethel University for 25 years, taught my last 14 years, and also worked with international/multicultural students at both Bethel and William Mitchell College of Law (10 years). I currently work 15 hours a week with Alzheimer’s patients. Gary died 17 years ago of PTSD and alcoholism.

    Other than arthritis I am doing fine. I have a Maltese rescue dog that is good company for me.

    Many prayers for you . . . Beryl Rourke

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