Richard McDonnell Schiltz
Richard McDonnell Schiltz, age 75, died peacefully on Dec. 25, 2021, after a long illness.
He was born in Billings on March 6, 1946, to the late John McHale and Edna McDonnell Schiltz. He grew up on Highland Park Drive. The area was bordered by Tony’s Supermarket, Lisa Field, the Big Ditch and the Rimrocks, which provided countless hours of hiking and exploring. The neighborhood was populated by a bevy of World War II baby boomers. Rich attended Kate Fratt Memorial School and graduated from Billings Central High School in 1964. From Central, he went on to attend/study at the College of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota.
After two years of social success and academic failure, he returned to Billings. Richard then joined the local Marine Reserve unit in June 1966. While in Boot Camp, he scored very high on a test and qualified for flight school. The training required a three year commitment, so he reenlisted for three years. The week before flight school was scheduled to begin the program was canceled — but not the three-year enlistment.
In October 1967, Richard arrived in Vietnam and was assigned to a naval gunfire support team with the 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment along the DMZ.
In early May 1968, the battalion was northeast of Dong Ha. At the village of Dai Do, the battalion took on a regimental force of North Vietnamese regulars. Their advance on the city of Quang Tri was stopped by the U.S. side. The marines suffered over 80% casualties over two days of fighting. During the 13-month tour of duty, shelling and mortar attacks were almost constant. During his tour in Vietnam, Richard received a Naval Commendation Medal with a V for valor in combat. He also received a Good Conduct Medal and attained the rank of Sergeant E-5.
After the Marine Corp, Rich reapplied to the College of St. Thomas, and was accepted. To help pay for his tuition, he was a bartender around the Twin Cities and graduated with the class of 1972 with a degree in economics.
In 1974, Richard moved to Houston and went to work as a roughneck on offshore drilling rigs in the Gulf of Mexico and Brazil.
In 1978, Richard moved to Norman, Oklahoma, to work in oil production and to attend petroleum engineering school at the University of Oklahoma. While at the university, he started teaching in their oil well blowout prevention systems school. In 1984, he became its program director. In this capacity, he taught with the Wild Well Control one summer in Brazil. Upon leaving OU he did consulting work throughout the west. In the fall of 1989, Richard suffered a serious stroke and was forced to retire.
In retirement, he moved to St. Michaels, Maryland, alongside the Chesapeake Bay and took up sailing. Richard was also an avid golfer and proudly celebrated a hole-in-one. He often shared fond memories of a weekend of golf at the Augusta National Golf Club.
In 2006, Rich moved back to Billings to be close to old friends and family.
He is survived by his sister, Kathe McDaniels (Bill) of Washington, DC; his brothers, John of Billings and Christopher (Ann) of Sioux Falls, South Dakota; as well as numerous nephews, nieces, and cousins.
Richard is also survived by several women who played important roles in his life through their love and companionship. A special thanks to Jenny Sheehy, Becky Muller and Madonna Stepanek who took wonderful care of Rich for four years.
A funeral mass will take place at noon on Thursday, Dec. 30, at St. Patrick Co-Cathedral, 215 N. 31st St., in Billings. Following the mass, a burial service with full military honors will be held at the Yellowstone National Cemetery, 55 Buffalo Trail Road, Laurel, MT 59044.
In lieu of flowers, please make contributions to the Billings Catholic Schools Foundation.
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