OKLAHOMA CITY -- On this Memorial Day, family and friends fondly reflect on Staff Sergeant, Ruben Rivers. The Oklahoma native was a part of the 761st First Tank Battalion during World War II.
Ruben was killed in combat when his tank was hit by enemy fire. The Oklahoman was providing cover fire for his company, as they were ordered to retreat to safety. This came only days after Rivers lost his leg to a mine explosion.
His brother, Willie Rivers said, "I didn't want to accept the fact that he was dead. I just put it in the back of my mind saying that I know he's not dead. I know that one day he would come walking up."
Willie Rivers was only seven when his family received word that his bother had been killed in action. He recalled the final days leading up to Ruben's departure overseas.
"Ruben was home on leave from the service. We were walking down this road and I remember looking up at him. Looked like he was a giant, just so distinguished."
Ruben's actions came at a dark time in America. He served when his duty was not always appreciated.
Willie Rivers told us, "When I say that he went beyond the call of duty, Why would a young black boy, living in a segregated country be willing to sacrifice his life for a country in which he was not free?"
Ruben Rivers' heroism would not go unnoticed. In 1997, he was awarded the Medal of Honor, the United States highest military award.
Ruben was only one of seven African Americans serving in WWII to receive the Medal of Honor.
Ruben Rivers' bravery is an example of the sacrifice all our service men and women make in order to protect our right to freedom.
Willie Rivers said, "What Ruben did back then, a lot of people lives were saved because he gave up his life so others could fall back to safety."