From engineering to ranching
Veteran Rae Richter goes from airfield engineer to helping out on local ranch, still speaks with 'brothers and sisters' in USMC
November 6, 2019
Rae Richter has lived in the Valley for nearly three years and currently works for Kip Kerbs, helping him on his ranch outside Saratoga. Richter is originally from Masonville, Colorado and served in the United States Marine Corps (USMC) for four years.
"I had a lot of friends that were going to college and all that kind of stuff and I just wasn't ready for college," said Richter. "I had another friend that was in the Marine Corps and he told me I should give it a go."
Taking her friends advice, she enlisted in the USMC with the intention of her military occupation service code (MOS) being combat engineer. That, however, wouldn't work out like she had hoped.
"Right before I shipped they told me it was no longer available," said Richter.
Fortunately for Richter, she had done well on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test and was able to secure a spot in another engineering MOS.
"I built airfields. The Navy has seabees, we were like the Marine Corps version of them. We maintained, built the airfields, did all the lighting and any tailhook aircraft that came in, we would catch them," Richter said. "My MOS was expeditionary airfield technician. They were all expeditionary. They could be permanent, but just a bunch of aluminium matting that goes together like the pergo floors."
While Richter served for four years, she never deployed. In 2012, she suffered a spinal cord injury that cut her time in the USMC short. It wasn't long after she exited the Marines, in 2013, that her unit was deployed to Afghanistan.
After she left the Marines, Richter moved to Laramie and lived there for four years. She spent a short time in Bozeman, Montana before spending two years in Colorado and then, eventually, moving to Saratoga.
"I used to work for BMW in Colorado and that was well paying, but I didn't enjoy it. Now, I'm working for Kip Kerbs on the ranch," said Richter. "Much more my lifestyle."
Richter advises anyone who is looking to enlist to ensure that the MOS they are wanting to have is actually available. She admits that she was lucky as she had to go open contract following the news that combat engineer was no longer available.
She continues to keep in contact with the members of her unit, who she calls her brothers and sisters.
"Still very close, still talk to all of them," Richter said. "Lost many friends, but that's what happens in war time."