Monday, November 7, 2011

Sgt. Paul Rivera, United States Army, KIA, Afghanistan

Paul Rivera was born March 19, 1985 and passed away on October 22, 2011.

Paul grew up playing with Micro Machines and video games with his best friend Nick Carmona. He was known by all as charismatic, kind-hearted and deeply religious. Paul was a member of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Austin, where he had served as an alter boy.

Paul grew up in Round Rock, Texas and was a member of the first graduating class of Stony Point High school. He was the manager of the school's basketball team.

Paul graduated from high school in 2003 and joined the United States Army, inspired to do so by the events of September 11, 2001.

At the time of his death, Paul was assigned to the 709th Military Police Battalion. He was on patrol in Logar Province, Afghanistan, when his unit was attacked by enemy forces, causing the vehicle in which he was riding to rollover, killing him. He was the 1,818th American to die in Afghanistan.

Paul was posthumously promoted to Sergeant and awarded the Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart Medal.

A funeral mass was conducted at St. Mary's Cathedral on November 2. The mass was performed by the Reverends Albert Laforet and Bud Roland who called Paul their "spiritual son". In attendance at the cathedral were Patriot Guard Riders from all over central Texas, who formed a line of American flags at the entrance to welcome the arriving family and friends.

After the service, the Riders led the funeral procession to the Central Texas State Veterans Cemetery at Killeen, Texas. There awaited more of the Riders and fifty American flags blowing briskly in the southerly Texas wind.

After the flag draped casket of Sgt. Rivera was moved from the hearse into the committal shelter, the Patriot Guard Riders formed a line of American flags, enveloping the shelter, the family, many friends and fellow soldiers in attendance for the committal service and the rendering of full military honors.

The Rite of Committal was performed by a Catholic Priest.

Military Honors were then rendered by the United States Army Honor Guard. The Army Detail of five rifles fired three volleys of fire, representing Duty, Honor and Country. The Army bugler played taps, as all in attendance stood at attention.

The Honor Guard folded the flag that draped the coffin into the traditional triangle. The folded flag was passed to a Command Sergeant Major, who, in turn, passed it to Brigadier General March Inch, Chief of the Military Police Corps Regiment and Commandant of the Army Military Police School.

General Inch presented the flag to Sgt. Rivera's mother, Evelyn, on behalf of a grateful nation and the United States Army as a token of appreciation for Paul's honorable and faithful service.

Representatives of Gold Star Mothers presented a Gold Star Flag to Paul's mother and father.

Sgt. Paul Rivera was then laid to rest on the gentle sloping plain of the cemetery as the American flag flew at half-staff on the hill above.

Left to cherish his memory are his parents, Fred and Evelyn, his brother, Specialist Philip Rivera, United States Army, his grandmothers, uncles, cousins and many other dear family, friends, fellow soldiers and Senior Airman Nick Carmona, United States Air Force, Paul's childhood friend.

With thanks to the Austin American-Statesman, The Liberty Tree, Lisa Birkman and Amanda Carter for biographical information and additional photographs.

Links to news stories.

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