b. 29/04/1933 Cabo Rojo, Costa Rica. d. 19/03/1967 New York.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 22-23/05/1951 Changyongni, Korea.
Rivera (birth name: Demensio Rivera y Avilés) 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. He was awarded the Medal of Honor posthumously on March 18, 2014. The medal was presented to his granddaughter, Sgt. Ashley Randall at the White House by President Barack H. Obama
Rivera was residing in New York City where he died on March 19, 1967. His body was transferred to Puerto Rico.
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.
BURIAL LOCATION: CEMENTERIO SAN MIGUEL ARCANGEL, CABO ROJO, COSTA RICA.
Section C, Row K, Site 184
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