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First Name: Horacio

Last Name: Rivero

Birthplace: Ponce, PR, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Date of Birth: 16 May 1910

Date of Death: 24 September 2000

Rank or Rate: Admiral

Years Served: 1931-1972
Horacio Rivero, Jr.

Graduate, U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1931

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)
•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Horacio "Rivets" Rivero, Jr.

Admiral, U.S. Navy

Horacio Rivero, Jr. was born on 16 May 1910 in the city of Ponce, located in the southern coast of Puerto Rico, where he also received his primary and secondary education.

On 20 June 1927, he received an appointment from the Honorable Felix Cordova Davila, Puerto Rico's Resident Commissioner to attend the U.S. Naval Academy. His nickname "Rivets" came about in the Academy as a result of an officer who had trouble reading Rivero's name on his uniform. On 4 June 1931, he graduated from the Academy third in a class of 441.

Rivero's first assignment was aboard the USS Northampton (CA-26). From 1932-36, he served aboard the following ships: USS Chicago (CA-29), USS New Mexico (BB-40), USS California (BB-44) and USS Pennsylvania (BB-38). He earned his Master's Degree in Electrical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 1940 and in 1941 married Hazel Hooper.

World War II

During World War II, he served aboard the USS San Juan (CL-54) as a Gunnery Officer and was involved in providing artillery cover for Marines landing on Guadalcanal, Marshall Islands, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. Rivero was reassigned to the USS Pittsburgh (CA-72). The Pittsburgh's bow had been torn off during a typhoon and Rivero's strategies saved his ship without a single life lost. He also participated in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, the attack on Bougainville in the Solomons, the capture of the Gilbert Islands and a series of carrier raids on Rabaul. On 5 June 1945, Rivero was present during the first carrier raids against Tokyo during operations in the vicinity of Nansei Shoto.

Rivero served as Assistant to the Assistant Chief of Naval Operations (Special Weapons) from August 1945 to February 1946. From February 1946 to June 1947, he served as a technical assistant on the Staff of Commander Joint Task Force One for Operation Crossroads, and was on the Staff of Commander, Joint Task Force Seven during the atomic weapons tests in Eniwetok in 1948.

Korean War

After WWII, Rivero commanded the USS William C. Lawe (DD-763) and during the Korean War the USS Noble (APA-218). Under his command, the Noble steamed to Korea to participate in the September Inchon amphibious assault. Thereafter, the Noble assisted in the transport of U.S. and foreign troops and equipment to and from the Korean combat zone. In July 1953, the Noble participated in Operation Big Switch, moving Communist North Korean prisoners from Koje Do to Inchon pursuant to the armistice agreement.

Rivero studied nuclear weaponry at the National War College and in 1954 he became Assistant Chief of Staff for Naval Operations. In 1955, he was promoted to the rank of Rear Admiral and was a member of the Staff of the Commander in Chief, Western Atlantic Area.

Cuban Missile Crisis

The Cuban Missile Crisis was a tense confrontation between the Soviet Union and the U.S. over the Soviet deployment of nuclear missiles in Cuba. On 22 October 1962, Rivero, who served as Vice Chief of Naval Operations from 1961 to 1968, was the Commander of the American fleet sent by President John F. Kennedy to set up a quarantine (blockade) of the Soviet ships in an effort to stop the Cold War from escalating into World War III. On 28 October, Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev ordered the removal of the Soviet missiles in Cuba, and Kennedy ordered an end of the quarantine of Cuba on 20 November, bringing an end to the crisis. On 31 July 1964, Rivero became the first Puerto Rican and first Hispanic to become a four-star Admiral in the modern era US Navy.

Vietnam War

During the Vietnam War, Rivero oversaw the day-to-day work of the Navy as the Vice Chief of Naval Operations. He was a stern supporter of a "brown-water navy," or riverine force, on the rivers of South Vietnam.

NATO Commander

From 1968 until his retirement from the Navy in 1972, Admiral Rivero was the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Forces in Southern Europe. He was responsible for the land, sea and air forces of five nations deployed in the Mediterranean area: Italy, Greece, Turkey, Britain and the U.S. During his years as Commander, there were some 215,000 of the 310,000 American troops in Europe stationed in West Germany. At the time, Rivero believed that any withdrawal of U.S. troops from West Germany might affect the strength of the U.S. Sixth Fleet in the Mediterranean.

Medals and Awards

Navy Distinguished Service Medal (3 Awards)

Legion of Merit

Bronze Star with "Valor" Device

Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal

World War II Victory Medal

National Defense Service Medal

Korean Service Medal

Vietnam Service Medal

United Nations Service Medal

Vietnam Campaign Medal


• Rivero was the Honorary Chairman of the American Veterans' Committee for Puerto Rico Self-Determination.

• On 11 November 2008, the Government of Puerto Rico unveiled in the Capitol Rotunda the oil portrait of Admiral Horacio Rivero, Jr.

In Retirement

From 1972 to 1975, Admiral Rivero served as the U.S. Ambassador to Spain under the administration of President Richard M. Nixon from 1972 to 1974.

Death and Burial

Admiral Horacio Rivero, Jr. died on 24 September 2000 and was buried with full military honors at the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery of San Diego, CA.

He was survived by a daughter, Mary Lynn Hogan; two grandchildren; two great-grandchildren, and two sisters, Sara and Lydia, both of Puerto Rico.

Origin of Nickname/Handle:
His nickname "Rivets" came about in the Academy as a result of an officer who had trouble reading Rivero's name on his uniform.

Honoree ID: 634   Created by: MHOH




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