Demensio Rivera

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Demensio Rivera
Demensio Rivera.jpg
Born April 29, 1933
Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico
Died March 19, 1967(1967-03-19) (aged 33)
New York City, NY
Place of burial San Miguel Arcangel Cemetery in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch Emblem of the United States Department of the Army.svg United States Army
Years of service 1950–1951
Rank Army-USA-OR-03.svg Private First Class
Unit

3rd Infantry Division SSI (1918-2015).svg 3rd Infantry Division

7th Infantry Regiment DUI.png 7th Infantry Regiment
2nd Battalion
Golf Company
Battles/wars Korean War
Awards Medal of Honor ribbon.svg Medal of Honor
Purple Heart ribbon.svg Purple Heart

Private Demensio Rivera (April 29, 1933 – March 19, 1967) was a U.S. Army veteran of the Korean War and a posthumous recipient of the Medal of Honor.[1]

Biographical details[edit]

Rivera (birth name: Demensio Rivera y Avilés '[note 1]) was the youngest of five children born in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico[1] to Demensio Rivera Y Negrón and Dolores Avilés De Rivera. He was still a child when his parents moved to New York City where he was raised.

On September 26, 1950, Rivera joined the United States Army in New York.[1] In 1951, he was deployed to the Republic of Korea as a member of Company G, 2d Battalion, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division of the U.S. Army. When his unit was attacked by the enemy, he delivered continuous and devastating fire at them with his automatic rifle until his weapon became inoperative. He employed his pistol and grenades and stopped the enemy within a few feet of his position. Rivera was seriously wounded and was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross, the Army's second highest military decoration. His DSC was upgraded to the Medal of Honor and was posthumously awarded to him in 2014.

Rivera was residing in New York City where he died on March 19, 1967. His body was transferred to Puerto Rico. He was buried with full military honors in section C row K -184 at the Cementerio San Miguel Arcangel located in Carretera PR-308, Parcelas Puerto Real, Cabo Rojo.[2]

Medal of Honor[edit]

The bestowal of the Medal of Honor recognized Rivera for his actions at Changyongni, Korea, May 22–23, 1951.[1] When the outpost area occupied by his platoon was assaulted during the night, Rivera, an automatic rifleman, held his forward position tenaciously, although exposed to very heavy fire.[1] When his rifle became inoperative, Rivera employed his pistol and grenades, and eventually fought the enemy hand-to-hand and forced them back.[1]

Rivera was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor by President Barack Obama in a March 18, 2014 White House ceremony. Rivera was one of four Puerto Ricans to be honored that day and one of nine Puerto Ricans to have received the Medal of Honor.[3]

Rivera's granddaughter, U.S. Army Sgt. Ashley Randall, received the Medal of Honor on her late grandfather's behalf, from President Obama in 2014.

The award came through the Defense Authorization Act which called for a review of Jewish American and Hispanic American veterans from World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War to ensure that no prejudice was shown to those deserving the Medal of Honor.[4][5]

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

Cmoh army.jpg

The President of the United States of America, under the provisions of the Act of Congress approved, July 9, 1918 (amended by act of July 25, 1963), takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to:

PRIVATE
DEMENSIO RIVERA
UNITED STATES ARMY

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:

Private Demensio Rivera distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as an automatic rifleman with 2d Platoon, Company G, 7th Infantry Regiment, 3d Infantry Division during combat operations against an armed enemy in Changyong-ni, Korea on May 23, 1951.

Early that morning, a large hostile force emerged from a dense fog and viciously attacked Private Rivera and his comrades. Private Rivera immediately responded by firing with deadly accuracy until his weapon jammed. Without hesitating, he threw his rifle down and began to engage the enemy with his pistol and grenades. At one point, Private Rivera fearlessly crawled from his emplacement to engage an infiltrating enemy soldier in fierce hand-to-hand combat. With only the sound of footsteps and obscure shadows to guide his aim, Private Rivera held his position against tremendous odds, inflicting numerous casualties on the enemy until he found himself without ammunition of any kind except one grenade. Displaying a peerless fighting spirit and an utterly selfless devotion to duty, Private Rivera pulled the pin from his last grenade and calmly waited for the enemy to reach his position. As enemy troops leaped inside his bunker, Private Rivera activated the grenade with the full knowledge that it meant his almost certain death. When the debris from the explosion had cleared, friendly forces recovered a severely wounded Private Rivera and discovered the bodies of four dead or dying enemy soldiers surrounding him.

Private Rivera's extraordinary heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, his unit and the United States Army.

Honors, awards and decorations[edit]

Among Private Rivera's military decorations are the following:

Combat Infantry Badge.svg
A light blue ribbon with five white five pointed stars
Bronze star
Markesman Weapons Qual Badge.png
1 Combat Infantryman Badge
2 Medal of Honor Purple Heart
3 Army Good Conduct Medal National Defense Service Medal Korean Service Medal
with one bronze service star
4 Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation United Nations Service Medal Korean War Service Medal
5 Marksmanship Badge
with rifle bar

Note[edit]

  1. ^ This name uses Spanish naming customs: the first or paternal family name is Rivera and the second or maternal family name is Avilés.

See also[edit]

References[edit]