53 years to get a Medal of Honor
Sergeant Rubin Rivers was awarded the Silver Star for his bravery in action on 8 November 1944, the 761st Tank Battalion's first day in combat. A week later his tank hit a mine and he was seriously wounded in the leg. When ordered to evacuate by his white company commander, Captain David Williams, he refused: "Captain you're going to need me." He took over another tank and continued fighting. A few days later his new tank also hit a mine, and he mounted a third tank. His wound was infected but he would not go to the rear to get treated.
On 19 November, German tanks attacked out of a fog, catching American infantry and tanks out in the open. Although outnumbered and outgunned, Sergeant Rivers and another tank charged the Germans, giving the American infantry and tanks a chance to take cover. The Americans withdrew in good order but Sergeant Rivers was killed when his tank was destroyed.
Captain Williams recommended Sergeant Rivers for the
Congressional Medal of Honor, but the Army would not pass such a recommendation
up the chain of command. In 1997 Sergeant Rivers was awarded his Medal of
Honor posthumously. Captain Williams attended the ceremony.