NewsMission Service


Father swears in daughter to Nebraska Army National Guard 35 years after he was sworn in

'That’s the highlight of my career'
Posted at 7:48 PM, Apr 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-12 08:26:19-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — When called upon, the Nebraska Army National Guard is always there.

Lieutenant Colonel Dennis Rieke has been answering the call for more than three decades.

“I got in because they landed a helicopter on my football field,” Lt. Col. Rieke said. “They said, ‘Hey we will let you fly in helicopters and fix them. It will be a great time,’ and it was.”

He went from fixing and flying in helicopters to taking care of our military members.

First, as a flight medic. Now, as a physician’s assistant with the state’s medical detachment and at the Department of Neurosurgery at UNMC, after the ARNG paid for his schooling.

“So I’ve been doing that now as an officer since 2003. It’s been a 35 year career but there’s been different parts to it, and that’s kept it really interesting for me.”

Another different, and interesting, part of his career just recently took place.

“I don’t think I’ve ever made him so excited before because he never really expected it.”

Dennis’ daughter, Sam, is a freshman student at the University of Oklahoma.

She returned home for spring break and broke the news to her dad that she planned on following in his footsteps and joining the Nebraska National Guard. It's something she never expressed interest in before.

“I’m just so proud of my daughter,” Dennis said. “You raise kids to make good decisions on their own and I love that she thought through this on her own without pressure from mom or dad.”

“I’m really excited to be studying physics and doing physics, but I also kind of wanted more than just that,” Sam said, who will be specializing in public affairs and mass communication in the ARNG. “The National Guard gives me the opportunity to do something completely different at the same time.”

“I love what I do with the military,” Dennis said. “I’ve had such a great career and I’ve met so many neat people. I can’t tell you how excited I am for her to go have her own adventures, make her own friendships, and experience all the pluses the National Guard can bring for you.”

The surprises didn’t end there.

A week later it was time for Sam to get sworn in, and it was her dad — nearly 35 years to the day that he swore in — who had the honors.

"I’m not a super emotional kind of guy but that was a pretty touching moment for me,” he said.

“The fact that he was the one that got to be the one to swear me in was really awesome,” Sam gleamed. “Because it felt really full circle. He was the one who inspired me to be here, and suddenly I was there, and he was there.”

“I’ve done a lot of things I never would have expected to do,” Dennis said. “But to get a chance to swear my own daughter in — that’s the highlight of my career.”

There’s only one thing left for the two to do: “Now I have a mission," Dennis said. "I want to go do something with my daughter somewhere once she gets done with basic training.”

Sam will come back to Nebraska and complete her basic training this summer.

If there is a person or topic you think we should cover or highlight for Mission Service, tell us. Send an email to