Thomas Rivas Sr. was born on October 10th, 1947 in Silvis, IL.1 Before Rivas joined the army he worked at Rock Island Lines in Silvis. Rivas was assigned to the 6th Armored Cavalry Regiment as an infantryman, and sent to Wood, Missouri for basic training. The 6th Armored Cavalry Regiment held many responsibilities in Vietnam. Most important of the responsibilities for the infantrymen was reconnaissance. The 6th Armored Cavalry Regiment was also nicknamed the “Fightin’ Six”. Rivas was sent to Vietnam with the Fightin’ Six.
The Vietnam War was very much gearing up in the late 1960’s when Rivas was sent to fight for his country. President Lyndon B. Johnson had sent a total number of 549,500 troops to Vietnam in 1968. The army and infantrymen suffered the worst in the Vietnam War as they suffered 68% of all casualties. In 1968 the VietCong launched the Tet Offensive on the U.S. forces. This offensive by the North Vietnamese forces was a major escalation in the war. VietCong forces launched an assault on over 100 Southern Vietnamese cities in less than a year’s time. While on reconnaissance, Rivas was injured by VietCong forces on his birthday, October 10th.2
Rivas was sent to Walter Reed Hospital in Washington D.C. It was a scary time for him and his family. Rivas survived and was awarded for his heroism. Rivas was awarded the Silver Star. The Silver Star is the third highest medal a person in the armed forces can receive. The award is given to soldiers who show gallantry action against an enemy of the United States. Rivas was also awarded the Purple Heart medal which is awarded to armed forces members who are injured in the line of duty. Thomas Rivas Sr. was also awarded an air medal. This award is given to those who show heroic action while in aerial flight. Thus meaning that Rivas saw action on the ground and in the air.
Rivas returned home from the hospital where he went on to work for the Rock Island Post Office until his death in 2013.3 Rivas was an incredible soldier who risked his life for his country.
2 National Archives Veterans’ Service Records