|Born||April 29, 1933
Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico
|Died||March 19, 1967
New York City, NY
|Place of burial||San Miguel Arcangel Cemetery in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico|
|Allegiance||United States of America|
|Service/branch||United States Army|
|Years of service||1950–1951|
|Rank||Private First Class|
7th Infantry Regiment
|Awards|| Medal of Honor
Rivera (birth name: Demensio Rivera y Avilés '[note 1]) was the youngest of five children born in Cabo Rojo, Puerto Rico 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. 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.
Medal of Honor
The bestowal of the Medal of Honor recognized Rivera for his actions at Changyongni, Korea, May 22–23, 1951. 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. When his rifle became inoperative, Rivera employed his pistol and grenades, and eventually fought the enemy hand-to-hand and forced them back.
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.
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.
Medal of Honor citation
Honors, awards and decorations
Among Private Rivera's military decorations are the following:
- List of Korean War Medal of Honor recipients
- List of Puerto Ricans
- List of Puerto Rican military personnel
- List of Puerto Rican recipients of the Medal of Honor
- List of Hispanic Medal of Honor recipients
- "Private First Class Demensio Rivera | Valor 24 | Medal of Honor | The United States Army". army.mil. Retrieved 2014-03-31.
- Medal of Honor Historical Society of the United States
- Obama to award Medal of Honor to 24 Army veterans.
- Daniel Rothberg (2014-02-21). "Obama will award Medal of Honor to 24 overlooked Army veterans". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2014-02-21.
- "Obama to Award Medal of Honor to 24 Army Veterans - ABC News". abcnews.go.com. Retrieved 2014-02-22.