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Reserve training manager receives PEP to master sergeant

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Erin Smith
  • 624th RSG Public Affairs
He has this talent. It usually takes him about a minute and 20 seconds but he's done it in less than a minute.

Master Sergeant Peter Rieta can solve a Rubik's Cube like no one you've ever seen. The tenacity he uses as his fingers glide and twirl through the combinations of the cube, searching for the answer, is the same he's used to find the answers in his Air Force career.

It's paid off for Sergeant Rieta, who is the training manager for the 48th Aerial Port Squadron. The Guam native aligned all the colors in his Air Force cube and received a promotion to Master Sergeant under the highly selective Promotion Enhancement Program, Oct. 1.

More commonly referred to as 'PEP' promotions, they are for outstanding performers who are blocked for promotion under the unit vacancy program. After being nominated for a PEP promotion, it was Sergeant Rieta's assistance to the Afghan military that put him over the top.

They needed a simple, concise training plan to teach Afghan aerial porters how to run an aerial port operation.

"We were at a complete standstill until Pete sent the training materials," said Maj. John-David Chun, readiness officer for the 48th Aerial Port Squadron who was deployed to Afghanistan to help rebuild the Afghan National Army Air Corps.

"The material wasn't even that complex," said Sergeant Rieta. "It boiled down to the basic programs we use to train non-aerial porters on how to build pallets. We provide training to them regularly but don't go into too much detail because we don't want to confuse them. We had a very basic training program established and I sent that to Major Chun in Afghanistan."

The impact was significant. Once Sergeant Rieta sent the training materials, the unit in Afghanistan was set in motion and they could start to create the curriculum for the class. Just seven months after the first phone call was made, the first class with 12 Afghan military students commenced.

While this incident was far-reaching, Sergeant Rieta does things like this daily for members of the 48th APS. As the training manager, he makes it his personal mission to know where training resources are and to find the answers to give to members of the squadron. His goal is to teach reservists about things like the importance of professional military education and the Community College of the Air Force. He wants to be the guy with the answers.

"It doesn't benefit me," he said, "it benefits them. It took me forever to get my 5-level. Now, I know exactly how to get it and give people the road map to get it sooner."

When he stresses the importance of PME and the CCAF degree, he is practicing what he preaches. Despite it taking him a while to earn his 5-level degree, he has made up for lost time and has already completed two CCAF degrees and has a 7-level in two Air Force Specialty Codes, aerial porter and training manager. In addition to this, he has already completed all the necessary PME for the rest of his Air Force career. This includes the Senior NCO Academy.

"Now that I've finished it all, I can tell my guys what it's like and encourage them to enroll in the courses," he said.

He has worked ahead so he can help prepare his fellow squadron members for PME.

"Education is important," he said. "Whenever I hear a unit chief talk, he always says, 'do your PME.' Whenever I hear a command chief talk, he always says, 'do your PME and get your CCAF.'"

As for his recent promotion, which puts him well on his way to joining the chiefs he hears stress the importance of education, he said that it hasn't sunk in yet.

"When I was promoted, a lot of good words were said to me like, 'long-awaited,' 'well-deserved,' and 'thank you for your hard work,'" he said. "Now, I have to live up to that. I feel privileged to have good leadership, good mentoring. I can't do things like this myself. My supervisors, my officers, my entire unit and my group made this happen. You can't be a one-man team. Your strengths are with your unit, the people around you."