Business professor, chair retires from military reserves after accumulating 35-plus years over 37 total years

Release Date: May 28, 2008

PLAINVIEW – Since May 20, Dr. Otto B. Schacht has had a little more free time on his hands after retiring from a 35-plus year involvement with the U.S. Armed Forces. While his full-time job as professor of business at Wayland Baptist University is not ending, Schacht will definitely spend less time juggling his two lives.

A native of Lockney, Schacht joined the U.S. Air Force in 1971 shortly after earning his bachelor’s degree in agricultural engineering, serving as a missile systems analyst specialist stationed at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. After an honorable discharge from active duty in 1975, Schacht completed his master’s degree at Central Missouri State University in agriculture technology.

He remained in the inactive reserves for two years, finally ending his Air Force stint formally in 1977. While in the inactive reserves he pursued the doctorate in agricultural engineering at Texas A&M University in Bryan. Upon completion of the Ph.D. he began his civilian career in teaching at Texas Tech University.

His break in military service ended two months after starting at Texas Tech. Schacht returned to the military in October of 1978 in the U.S. Army Reserves, serving with the 4166th Reserve Forces School in Lubbock a part of the 90th U. S. Army Reserve Command in San Antonio. At this same point in time Schacht began working his way up the educational ladder. He served as an assistant professor at Texas Tech University and then at South Plains College before moving into division leadership at SPC. He came to Wayland as W.A. Mays Professor of Business in 1999 and was named chairman of the Division of Business in 2001.

All the while, Schacht was also working his way up the military ranks in the Army Reserve. Starting as a Specialist 4, he made Specialist 5 in October of 1979, in October 1980 he received a direct commission to Captain and then made Major in 1987. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel in 1994 in the 4166th U.S. Army Reserve Forces School and was named the first Commander of the 5th Battalion (Civil Affairs/Psychological Operations), 95th Regiment, 3rd Brigade (Combat Support), 95th Division (Institutional Training) in Lubbock.

In 1999, the Army transferred him to the 95th Division (Institutional Training) Headquarters in Oklahoma City, where he served as Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations. With the promotion to Colonel in 2000, Schacht assumed the role of Deputy Chief of Staff, Logistics. In October 2002 he was named Commander of the 3rd Brigade (Combat Support), 95th Division (Institutional Training) in Tulsa.

As he retires, Schacht’s final assignment brings him almost full circle, ending his military career in the same state where he began: Missouri. Since August 2005, he has served as Executive Officer to the Deputy Commanding General, Army Reserve, for Training and Mobilization at the Maneuver Support Center and Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.

A juggling act was a perfect metaphor for Schacht as he led his two lives and helped raise his family. Having supportive employers helped immensely, he noted, and it didn’t hurt that most were connected to the military themselves.

“When I first came to Texas Tech, my boss and the Chairman of the Agricultural Engineering Department was Marvin Dvoracek, who was also the Colonel commanding the 4166th Army Reserve School that I joined,” Schacht recalled. “That fact probably helped me more than some others starting out as service personnel in other organizations. He understood from his perspective about jugging the two – military service and civilian job – and that made it easier for me. Plus, being in a school unit, we were teaching classes on military subjects, so it was very similar to what I was doing in my civilian life.”

Schacht said he found the same type of support at SPC, where Vice President Earl Gerstenberger was a retired Lieutenant Colonel from the New Mexico Army National Guard. When coming to Wayland, he made it clear up front in interviews that he hoped to continue serving his country in the Army Reserves as long as possible.

“I never had even a questioning word concerning what I was doing, and I strived to get done everything in my civilian job so my military career didn’t jeopardize that,” he said. “I felt like I needed to do both, and my employers were always very helpful in allowing me to do that.”

Reflecting on the past few decades, wife Madonna noted that her husband’s biggest challenge has been working his classes around his assignments out of town. Schacht planned far in advance for his absences, leaving tests or projects with division secretaries so his students kept up with their work…. much to their dismay.

“They didn’t get off easily, that’s for sure,” Madonna chuckled. “He worked hard to make sure he kept up with everything.”

Schacht was honored by 200-plus family and friends on May 24 with a retirement/birthday party at Quaker Avenue Church of Christ in Lubbock. While preparing for the party, Madonna said his dual career of teaching and reserve duty has “been a good life,” allowing the family to live well and serve their country. She and the couple’s two grown sons, Fritz of Denton and Jackie-Don of Houston, have been involved in most of Schacht’s military endeavors when possible, attending ceremonies, unit gatherings and other events over the years. All are supportive of his two loves: teaching and service to our nation.

“Madonna was very supportive of me and of the soldiers under my command. She was called the Donut Lady of the 95th Division in Oklahoma City because she’d bring donuts every morning before drills,” he recalled.

Even with a changing military force and heightened security due to the Sept. 11 attacks on America, Schacht feels he’s able to look back with fondness at a life well spent in service. Though he may not have ever imagined spending 30 years in military service, he doesn’t regret the sacrifices that he made to achieve it.

“When I signed up in the Air Force, I thought that would be the end of my military career, but thankfully it has not been. I’ve been very blessed to be in the Army Reserves over the years,” he said. “I’ll miss the people more than anything, and that’s always true.”