National Hispanic Heritage Month: Admiral Horacio Rivero, Jr., US Navy

Horacio Rivero, Jr., who was born in 1910 in the city of Ponce on the southern coast of Puerto Rico, earned renown as one of the U.S. Navy’s highest-ranking Hispanic American pioneers. In 1927, he received an appointment to attend the U.S. Naval Academy (USNA). Rivero graduated from the USNA in 1931, standing third in a class of 441.

Until retiring in 1972, Rivero steadily climbed the Navy’s ladder when it came to both rank and responsibilities in times of war as well as peace. He served in the Pacific Theater during World War II. During the Korean War several years later, Rivero commanded the Haskell-class attack transport ship USS Noble. This ship was a vessel in the Navy’s transport division throughout the five-day Battle of Inchon, one of the biggest victories against North Korea during the Korean War. As the officer in charge of the Noble during that battle, Rivero directed the daunting efforts on board the ship to ferry U.S. marines and material to the war-torn northwestern region of South Korea and then have them transported to the shore via landing craft.

When Rivero was promoted to four-star admiral in 1964, he became the first Hispanic American to achieve that rank. (Civil War hero David G. Farragut, whose father was from Spain, had in 1866 become the first person of Hispanic descent to be elevated to full admiral in the U.S. Navy; the rank of four-star admiral, however, did not exist at that time.)

Rivero’s post-naval career included serving as U.S. ambassador to Spain from 1972 to 1974. He died in 2000 in Coronado, California, at the age of 90. Those paying tribute to Rivero at the time included retired vice admiral Jerry Miller, who had served as his executive assistant. “Admiral Rivero was the kind of officer who was an inspiration to everyone,” he said. “He did it with courtesy, humor and with brains.”

For more information on Admiral Horacio Rivero, Jr., please check out

Additional information on Hispanic admirals in the U.S. Navy is available at

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