CRESTVIEW — Asia Schroeder, a native of Poland, came to America 14 years ago at age 19. For a high school graduation present, Asia’s aunt in Sarasota invited her to spend three months of summer there.
She had a round-trip plane ticket, but she would soon learn she was staying.
On her first day in America, Asia met the man who would become her first husband. SSgt. Peter Woodall, USMC, was a friend of her aunt’s family. He was on leave from the Marines and on recruiting duty in Sarasota. He and Asia spent the summer together and then SSgt. Woodall had to return to duty at Twentynine Palms, Calif.
When he left, he took Asia’s return plane ticket with him.
“This was Pete’s way of proposing to me,” Asia said.
A HERO DIES
Peter and Asia married in 2002 in Las Vegas. SSgt. Woodall was deployed to Iraq in February of 2003 and Asia came back to Sarasota to stay with her aunt. Shortly after, SSgt. Woodall was injured and sent to California to recover.
After that, SSgt. Woodall was stationed at Quantico, Va., and the couple’s son, Jacob, was born in 2004. SSgt. Woodall attended eight months of Explosive Ordnance Disposal training at Eglin Air Force Base in 2005. By year’s end, the family was sent to Camp LeJeune, N.C., and Asia became a stay-at-home mom.
SSgt. Woodall trained with Corey Schroeder at Camp LeJeune, and the Woodalls socialized with Corey and his girlfriend at the time. In 2007, both were deployed to Iraq, but in different parts.
Then, tragedy struck: On April 28, 2007, an improvised explosive device killed SSgt. Pete Woodall and another Marine, Billy Callahan.
BUILDING A NEW LIFE
Corey Schroeder contacted Asia when he heard the news about SSgt. Woodall. He also asked his mother, Terry McCoy, who was living in Indiana, to contact her.
“It was a very scary time. I was there by myself with Jacob, who had just turned 3. I did not know many people.” Asia said.
Corey Schroeder stayed in touch with Asia and their relationship grew.
In September of 2007, Corey came back to the states and had orders to Eglin for EOD training. He asked Asia and Jacob to come with him; the couple bought a home in Crestview and they were married that June.
More changes were in store: Working out became a passion for Corey and Asia, who in 2009 competed in an amateur bodybuilding competition. Soon, a downtown gym became available for sale and the Schroeders used part of the life insurance proceeds from SSgt. Woodall’s policy to buy it.
‘I AM VERY PROUD OF HER’
Corey left the Marines after 12 years and started working for New York Life Insurance. With her husband so busy, Asia ran the gym and became a World Beauty Fitness and Fashion Federation Pro.
The couple rented the downtown building for five years and bought the building and surrounding land, at 803 W. James Lee Blvd., last December.
Temple Fitness officially opened May 23. The gym’s name comes from the idea that your body is a temple; their slogan is “alter your life.” The facility is open 24 hours a day and has about 500 members.
“We have no staff. Asia does it all. She gives 110 percent toward our business and I am very proud of her,” Corey said.
Jacob also helps in the gym. He annually honors his late father by attaching a note to balloons and letting them go.
Such a tradition, Corey said, is why Temple Fitness is more than a gym.
“This is a legacy for Pete,” he said.
This article's first version initially gave Jacob's incorrect age.