Leading among the stars

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Sarah Williams
  • 17th Training Wing Public Affairs

Growing up all around the world in a military family, Emily Riter was inspired to follow in her dad’s footsteps and join the Armed Forces.

Riter was dead-set to join the Air Force but would change her mind as the opportunity to join the newly created Space Force opened up.

“The Air Force was my first love,” said Riter, 315th Training Squadron student. “The Air Force raised me and made me who I am, but when the Space Force was created, I knew I had to apply. It was a great opportunity.”

Riter did not make it on her first try, but she would not let that stop her from pursuing her dream of joining. Riter would receive the chance to reapply during her senior year of Reserve Officer Training Corps.

“They announced that slots had opened up for people who had originally applied but were denied,” said Space Force 2nd Lt. Riter. “Within five hours of finding out, I resubmitted my application and got it on my second try. I’m proud that I can now take the values that the Air Force instilled in me and carry them over to the Space Force.”

Riter is now a student in the intelligence officer course. While in the classroom, Riter uses her experiences growing up in a military family to help others see how their jobs and other jobs affect the mission.

“My main job here is to become an intelligence officer,” said Riter. “It’s also my job to help the enlisted understand their role in the bigger picture. Showing others how finance contributes to getting a bomb on a target during a mission is extremely valuable. Painting that picture shows them they're an integral part.”

Riter goes beyond her daily tasks of being a student by leading everyday interactions within her branch. Riter won Guardian of the Month when her efforts were recognized by those around her.

“The Guardian of the Month recognizes those that embody the Space Force core value,” said Space Force Master Sgt. Ngochanh Le, Space Force’s 533rd Training Squadron Detachment 1 senior enlisted leader. “Riter goes out of her way to connect with other students by working out with them or visiting during her lunch. Sometimes there can be a very hard line between officer and enlisted, but Riter tries to make every Guardian feel included.”

During physical training, Riter blends the line between officer and enlisted through conversations to make herself more approachable to those around her.

“Creating a separate Space Force PT was probably the best thing to get the officers and enlisted working together,” said Riter. “I got to meet people and talk to them. Members coming straight from Basic Military Training don’t get to interact with officers often, so having that chance to talk shows them that I’m not just an officer but I’m their peer.”

To decompress from a tough day at school, Riter emerges herself in activities involving the people around her. Riter designed a morale patch, filmed a video shown at BMT, and created the slogan “Deltas Up” for Space Force PT at Goodfellow.

“Everyone is doing something that is difficult,” said Riter. “So, when I’m having a tough day, seeing people within the community being resilient fuels me. It makes everything worth it.”

Embedding herself within the community has influence the way Riter plans to lead in the operational Space Force.

“As long as you keep people first and let them motivate you in everything you do, then you’re golden,” said Riter. “You can’t do it without people, so do right and do right by people.”