Coronado is the birthplace of Naval Aviation and home to Naval Air Station North Island, the Navy’s master helicopter base that is also the homeport for three nuclear powered aircraft carriers. Captain Pete Riebe, the Commanding Officer for USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) has spent the majority of his Navy career in Coronado, starting in 1998 as a student pilot at Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 41, serving in four different helicopter squadrons on his way to command of the Battle Cats of Helicopter Maritime Strike (HSM) Squadron 73, and most recently taking command of an aircraft carrier.
Capt. Riebe and his family have been entrenched in the Coronado community throughout his career, leaving for only short periods to serve in the Pentagon on the Joint Staff and go through Nuclear Power School in Charleston, SC to prepare for his time as a carrier Executive Officer (XO) and now Commanding Officer (CO).
Capt. Riebe grew up on a farm in the small town of Arlington, Washington, the son of a farrier and a homemaker, and the youngest of three children. He was drawn to the Navy as a way to pay for college and had friends who enlisted in the Navy so saw the opportunity and enlisted in 1990 as a nuclear electricians mate. While at nuclear power school he applied and got a direct appointment to the Naval Academy. CAPT Riebe studied systems engineering, was on the heavyweight crew team and earned his commission in 1996 before heading to flight school as a student Naval Aviator. As a student in flight school, Capt. Riebe met his future bride, Liz Lascell, in Pensacola, Florida.
While at the Naval Academy, Riebe said his most memorable moment was the night he found out he earned a Navy pilot slot. “We were part of the Top Gun generation and the movie was very influential in my childhood and became my dream at the Naval Academy,” said Riebe. Things came full circle for Capt. Riebe when as the Executive Officer on USS Theodore Roosevelt, numerous scenes of Top Gun: Maverick were filmed on board both in port and at sea.
After six tours flying helicopters, the last of which was in command, Riebe reflected on the growth and development through his career and what it meant transitioning from flying helicopters and leading smaller teams to the vast leadership roles on big deck ships. “Three back to back sea tours in leadership positions on Theodore Roosevelt, Anchorage and now Abe has kept me busy, but is also very much the reason I continue doing what I do.
It is rewarding mentoring young JOs and Sailors, creating a winning culture; I believe leadership is about creating a culture where you get the best out of people and build a team that enjoys coming to work, having fun and still being effective and strive to be the best.”
When asked what it feels like to be in command of an aircraft carrier that is named for President Abraham Lincoln, Riebe said, “It is absolutely humbling, I consider Abraham Lincoln to be the most remarkable, notable and historically significant president. When you think about standing on the shoulders of giants, this is it, taking command of a ship named after Lincoln is an honor and very fulfilling.”
All three of the Riebe children have grown up going through Coronado Unified Schools. Wyatt, a senior at Coronado High School, is the Associated Student Body President and is an Eagle Scout.
Wyatt was also just awarded a Navy ROTC Scholarship and wants to follow in his father’s footsteps to be a Naval Aviator. Quinn is also at Coronado High School and a member of the varsity sailing team and an avid hiker; she started the CHS Hiking Club and has climbed Mount Whitney. George is at Coronado Middle School, plays rugby and water polo and is also working toward becoming an Eagle Scout.
Liz Riebe, a beloved member of the Coronado community, volunteers on a number of boards and organizations to support the local schools and the Navy community, and has also worked for a Coronado non-profit. “Liz has focused on providing a stable foundation for our family, which has allowed me to give 100% when I am at work, and she has a great support network here in the Coronado Community,” said Riebe. When asked what he loved about Coronado, Riebe said “The support network in Coronado is wonderful. We love going to the beach here and we enjoy spending time on the bay, either on a boat or the stand up paddle boards. Coronado is a great place to live, it is idyllic and we are fortunate to be here.”