A Wytheville resident is the first female in the area to be recruited to enlist in the U.S. Space Force. Future Space Force Guardian Reya Scheiwe Sheckells recently signed a contract to work in Space Systems Operations. She is the second person overall from this area to enlist.
The 2019 Rural Retreat High School graduate reports for basic training Jan. 11 and will train to become a space systems operations specialist, performing tasks like detecting sea-launched ballistic missiles, tracking satellites, assisting in rocket launches and space flight operations.
The Space Force is the newest branch of the armed forces. It was established in December 2019 with enactment in 2020. It is a separate branch of the armed services, organized under the Department of the Air Force, similar to how the Marine Corps is organized under the Department of the Navy.
Its mission is to protect U.S. and allied interests in space and provide space capabilities for the Space Force and Air Force. Other responsibilities include developing members (called Guardians), acquiring military space systems, and maturing the military doctrine for space power.
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Previously, Sheckells worked as an EMT for Richardson Ambulance Service in Wytheville. She didn’t seek out the Space Force; it found her. She was considering joining the Air Force when Space Force officials found out about her high test scores and came calling.
“The Space Force reached out to me because of my test scores,” she said. You take tests for the military to see what jobs you qualify for.”
At first, she was not familiar with the Space Force, but after speaking with a recruiter who explained its mission, she was intrigued. For her training, she will spend nearly nine weeks at a technical school in California.
The daughter of Darlene Hale of Wythe County and Jason Scheiwe in Indiana, Sheckells signed up for a six-year Space Force stint. She said she has enjoyed serving as an EMT and helping her patients, but space awaits.
“I’m very excited about it,” she said. “I look forward to learning new things. Obviously, space is not something I imagined doing, but it is exciting that it is something I am going to be doing, meeting new people and traveling.”
To reach reporter Millie Rothrock, call 276-228-6611, ext. 573, or email email@example.com.