Fort Hood Soldiers, Round Rock Remembers Fallen Hero
Article and Photos by Staff Sgt. Gregory Sanders, 85th Civil Affairs Brigade Public Affairs
ROUND ROCK, Texas – Two Fort Hood-based Sgt. Audie Murphy Club members raised the American flag and the halyard sounded against the pole with a quieted, dull ping while a passing train sounded a hollow horn during a dedication ceremony in Round Rock Saturday Oct 20 in honor of a fallen Soldier.
“Providential events led Paul to a distant country, accepting many hardships as he labored tirelessly to aid a suffering people,” said Fred Rivera, father of Sgt. Paul Rivera. “No greater love is there than to lay down one’s life and in this case, for those of a neighboring country.”
According to reports, Sgt Paul Rivera was assigned to the 709th Military Police Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade, 21st Theater Sustainment Command out of Hohenfels, Germany when he died Oct. 22, 2011 in Puli Alam, Logar province, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered in a vehicle rollover during an attack by enemy forces.
Although his former brigade commander was not available to speak, another commander quickly learned that Rivera was a powerful, influential figure among Soldiers within his unit at all ranks.
“Anyone who knew Paul [Rivera] should consider themselves lucky,” said Col. Leo J. Ruth II, commander, 85th Civil Affairs Brigade. “Paul was the ultimate team player; he had a positive attitude and did whatever he had to do.”
While the ceremony was to dedicate a flag, house and street to Sgt. Rivera for his service to the country, the importance of remembering those who have fallen in current and past wars was not lost on members of the audience.
A group known as Gold Star Mothers has been perpetuating the memory of the fallen since the first World War and assisted with the Rivera ceremony. Once the group learned of Rivera’s passion for riding, the group coordinated the procession and attendance of a local motorcycle club.
“It’s nice to be able to remember Soldiers and to show that we haven’t forgotten,” said Steve Hall, the road captain for the Combat Vets Association motorcycle club. “Since the events of 2001 happened, support has tapered off and people have slowly forgotten. We like to remind people that there is still a war going on and to show our respects to the fallen.”
In addition to the Coordination of the motorcycle club, the Gold Star Mothers contacted a local chapter of the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club and requested 1st Sgt Alexander Poutou to provide honors during the dedication ceremony.
“I first met the Rivera family during the Gold Star Mothers parade in Round Rock last year,” said Poutou. “Once I received the call to participate, I agreed without hesitating.”
Everyone remembers those they have lost in their own way. Fred Rivera remembers his son’s conviction and strength of faith and even looked to him as a role model.
“He touched the heart of many who came to know him,” said Rivera. “Today, I thank you my son for your life of love. You were even an example for me.”
Col. Leo J. Ruth II, commander, 85th Civil Affairs Brigade, addresses an audience during a dedication ceremony Saturday, Oct 20 in Round Rock, Texas. This house, in addition to the flag pole and street, were dedicated in honor of Sgt. Paul Rivera, a local Round Rock resident and a Soldier, who was killed in Logar province, Afghanistan. (Photo by Army Staff Sgt. Gregory Sanders, 85th Civil Affairs Brigade Public Affairs)
1st Sgt Alexander Poutou and Staff Sgt. Michael Branch, members of the Sergeant Audie Murphy Club out of Fort Hood, raise the American flag during a dedication ceremony for Sgt. Paul Rivera in Round Rock, Texas on Oct 20. (Photo by Army Staff Sgt. Gregory Sanders, 85th Civil Affairs Brigade Public Affairs)
Members of the Combat Vets Association motorcycle club look on as Col Leo J. Ruth II, commander, 85th Civil Affairs Brigade, addresses the audience during a dedication ceremony in Round Rock, Texas Saturday, Oct 20. The dedication was to honor Sgt. Paul Rivera, a local resident who gave his life while serving in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (Photo by Army Staff Sgt. Gregory Sanders, 85th Civil Affairs Brigade Public Affairs)
Friends take a look at a photo album while they remember Sgt. Paul Rivera during a reception following the dedication ceremony Oct 20 in Round Rock, Texas. The reception took place in a new home built by Ashton Woods Homes in honor of Rivera. (Photo by Army Staff Sgt Gregory Sanders, 85th Civil Affairs Brigade Public Affairs)
Col. Leo J. Ruth II, commander, 85th Civil Affairs Brigade, speaks with Fred Rivera following a dedication ceremony Oct 20 in Round Rock, Texas. Fred Rivera is the father of Sgt. Paul Rivera, the Soldier honored through the dedication of a flag pole, home and street. (Photo by Army Staff Sgt. Gregory Sanders, 85th Civil Affairs Brigade Public Affairs)
85th Civil Affairs Brigade
Fort Hood, TX 76544