Staff Sergeant Ruben Rivers was born in 1921 in Tecumseh, Oklahoma, and was reared with 11 brothers and sisters on the family farm in Hotulka, Oklahoma, near Earlsboro. He entered the US Army in 1942, training with a tank battalion at Fort Hood, Texas, and shipped out shortly after D-Day, where he was attached to the 26th Infantry Division in General Patton's Third Army. He distinguished himself as a Tank Platoon Sergeant, with heroic actions against the Germans between Nov. 8 and Nov. 9, 1944, but was killed in action on Nov. 19. His commanding officer recommended him for the Medal of Honor, but this was denied since African Americans were not considered for the award during that time. However, he was awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart. But, more than 60 years later, the Medal of Honor was awarded to him posthumously.
The citation reads, in part: "Awarded for extraordinary heroism in action during the November 1944 campaign approaching Guebling, France. Although severely wounded in the leg. He refused medical treatment and evacuation, took command of another tank, and advanced with his company in Guebling the next day. Repeatedly refusing evacuation, he continued to direct his tank's fire at enemy positions, and at dawn Company A's tanks began to advance toward Bougaktroff, but were stopped by enemy fire. Joined by another tank, he opened fire on the enemy tanks covering Company A as men withdrew, while doing so, his tank was hit, killing him and wounding the crew. His fighting spirit and daring leadership were an inspiration to his unit and exemplify the highest traditions of military service."