"There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."
“I always wanted to serve in the military.”
Service seems to be a calling for 2LT Rieger who says it is more than a job. He views it as a “profession you live 24/7” and he feels the extra responsibility that comes with being in a leadership role. With early aspirations of being a military officer, 2LT Rieger took advantage of his time at Episcopal to prepare himself for the journey ahead. “Episcopal set me up well,” he says. During his senior year, 2LT Rieger served as the school’s Student Body President and the captain of the football team. In order to be ready for the physical demands of West Point, the former lineman lost 50 pounds and maintained a high level of physical fitness. He remained determined even when he was not initially accepted into the academy because of previous injuries he experienced as an athlete. Undeterred, he enrolled at LSU and spent a year healing. The next year, his dream became a reality and he enrolled at West Point.
Upon arrival at the academy, 2LT Rieger found himself well equipped for the challenging academics. He had no problem with courses such as chemistry, calculus, physics and coding because of his Episcopal experience. He says his skills in the French language especially set him apart from the other cadets. 2LT Rieger credits the Episcopal French exchange with boosting his aptitude and sparking his interest in the language. He continues to benefit from that early exposure even now. In 2018 while studying in Paris, 2LT Rieger participated in the WWI Armistice Centennial ceremony. In addition, he had the opportunity to serve as a French translator in Gabon, Africa in support of a counter-poaching training mission, an experience that is now a favorite from his time at West Point. For three weeks, 2LT Rieger and his team lived primitively among an army team in what he describes as “the middle of nowhere. It gave me a new appreciation for working with limited resources,” he says. He also says the experience was truly inspiring as he saw the commitment residents had to their country and making a difference. It is a commitment that he shares as he looks toward a life of service.
“They instilled a level of grit in me.”
2LT Rieger’s first experience as an Episcopal athlete was as the ball boy in third and fourth grade. His father and sister are both Episcopal graduates, and 2LT Rieger says early on he also fell in love with the school and the aura and mentality he discovered there. After his initial experience with Episcopal athletics, 2LT Rieger became a key member of the Knights football, baseball and soccer teams. He says there were countless lessons he learned from coaches Travis Bourgeois, Randy Richard and Wally Stevens. One lesson instilled by Bourgeois particularly stands out for 2LT Rieger. “Overcoming adversity was the biggest thing I learned from him.” 2LT Rieger has already used this lesson to overcome tragedies and hardships as he pursues his dreams. No doubt, the lesson will also serve him well in future endeavors.
2LT Rieger has worked hard in and out of the classroom to position himself well for the future. He earned a spot in the Army’s aviation unit and begins training to be a helicopter pilot this summer. Eventually, he hopes to fly an attack helicopter to transport Special Forces units. “I want to do what I can for my soldiers,” he says.
2LT Rieger is appreciative of the teachers and coaches at Episcopal who helped him accomplish so much in five short years. “My success is a tribute to their hard work,” he says. We thank 2LT Rieger for his willingness to serve and we applaud him for the preparation, determination and grit he exhibited to make that dream a reality. Congratulations!