Along with Charles L. Thomas, Ruben Rivers was also awarded a Medal of Honor in 1997 more than 50 years after his service in the U.S. Army. Rivers was one of the "Black Panters", the 761st Tank Battalion during World War II. Leading his platoon as sergeant, he bravely and successfully removed a German road block, an action that could have easily got him shot and killed by the enemy. He died weeks later in battle when his tank came under fire. Rivers was also awarded a Silver Star and Purple Heart for his heroism.