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NEWS | July 27, 2018

Missile officer brings experience, passion for her work

By Julie Frederick

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Araceli Rial has known two things since she was 14 years old: that she wanted to serve in the Army and be an air defender.

Now, 24 years later, she has achieved both goals and her career has brought her to the Aviation and Missile Command as the command’s missile maintenance officer. 

She can remember the first time she saw air defense artillery systems clearly, during a parade with her high school band.

“I’ll never forget it,” Rial said. “I can see the uniforms, the vehicles. I can see myself in our little band formation waiting for the trucks to pass by and I was like, ‘I want to do that. … I don’t know what they are doing, but I want to do that one day.’”

The Soldiers that day were wearing an 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade patch. With a little research, she identified where they served and that they were an air defense artillery unit. The summer before her senior year of high school, she sought out a local recruiter and told him exactly what she wanted from an Army career. 

Rial knew from the beginning that this would be a lifelong journey for her. She was familiar with the military from growing up in El Paso, Texas. Having that influence at an early age helped shape her desire to serve the nation in any capacity. She enlisted in the Army in 1994 immediately after completing high school, and has worked with air defense artillery systems ever since. 

She enlisted as a Patriot launching station enhanced operator/maintainer, meaning she was a truck driver for the Patriot radar system. Today her career field has changed as the Patriot system has grown to be one of the most utilized systems in the Army and around the world.

“(My favorite thing about the Patriot is) that it continues to change,” Rial said. “It continues to evolve and get better and it is always the go-to system. If we are hearing Patriot in the news, it’s the one thing that is dependable. It is the one thing that everyone leans on, and nations lean on it as the system of choice.”

Rial’s career in Army air defense has afforded her the opportunity to serve around the world. Now the AMCOM workforce will be the beneficiary of her knowledge, experience and passion for her work. Part of the knowledge Rial brings to AMCOM is a perspective from the field on how AMCOM is meeting Soldiers’ needs. 

“I was pretty familiar with the support (AMCOM) provides. It was exciting to know that I was going to come here,” she said. “At my last command, we received a lot of support from AMCOM with expediting and acquiring parts that are difficult to find or not stocked on a normal basis. The work AMCOM does, working with the different agencies to get us those parts so we could be operational, is a big deal.”

According to AMCOM Commander Maj. Gen. Doug Gabram, Rial’s experiences working in air defense will give her an edge when it comes to supporting AMCOM. 

“The Army’s missile programs, especially Patriot, are vital to our success,” Gabram said, “and the familiarity she brings of being in a tactical unit and understanding the different mission sets of each unit in different theaters will give Chief Warrant Officer 4 Rial the ability to help AMCOM better support Soldiers.”

As Rial begins to settle into her role at AMCOM, she is focused on helping the air defense community continue to be the “go-to system of choice.”  

Rial will be instrumental in educating senior leaders about missile sustainment and maintenance, particularly during the upcoming “AMCOM 101, Missiles.” AMCOM hosts the annual event as an opportunity for the missile sustainment and maintenance community to collaborate with air defense artillery units on best practices, services and products provided and to get feedback from the field. As a past participant of the event, she believes that it is important to educate senior leaders on the value AMCOM brings to Soldiers in the field.

“If we can get senior leaders to come to these kinds of conferences it is extremely beneficial,” she said. “Half of the battle is knowing what you’ve got. It is the benefit of sharing information and knowledge. On top of that, there is the experience that all the commanders bring of different situations in theater that we may not be aware of at AMCOM.”

Rial has another tie to the missile community through her husband, Jordan. The two met when he was sent to support her unit with a system modification while he was working as a Department of Defense civilian at Letterkenny Army Depot, Pennsylvania, which falls under AMCOM. Since returning from Germany, Jordan now works at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and continues to support the Air Defense community there. The couple have two children. 

"I have been so lucky to love what I do,” she said. “I see people who do this only for a job. They clock in and they clock out. It’s not a passion for them, but it definitely is for me.”