***<23rd] ********** Unit REACTIVATED 01NOV 2011***************************

23rd Brigade

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           23rd/2nd Tank of the 761st


Ruben Rivers

The 761st Tank Battalion had a complex history. They were a segregated unit of black tankers in an army out to liberate the continent of Europe. Even though General George Patton and others had misgivings about black soldiers, he chose the 761st, known as the “Black Panthers” as a spearhead unit for his Third Army..

One among their number was especially decorated. Sgt. Ruben Rivers, born in Tecumseh, Oklahoma in 1921 went above and beyond the call of duty. Already up for a Silver Star for dismounting his tank and clearing a roadblock under enemy fire by hand, he was later wounded in action and refused to be removed from the field. With his wounds bandaged but in intense pain, Rivers took command of another tank and led the assault on the town of Bougaktroff on the morning of November 19, 1944:

“At dawn, Company A's tanks began to advance towards Bougaktroff, but were stopped by enemy fire. Sergeant Rivers, joined by another tank, opened fire on the enemy tanks, covering company A as they withdrew. While doing so, Sergeant River's tank was hit, killing him and wounding the crew.”

Sergant Ruben Rivers went out fighting. His CO, Captain David J. Williams put in a citation for the Medal of Honor, and continued to fight for recognition for Rivers after the war. Williams lived to see Pres. Bill Clinton posthumously award the Medal of Honor to Rivers in 1997. It was accepted by Rivers’ sister Grace.


Sasser, Charles W.. Patton's Panthers: the African-American 761st Tank Battalion in World War II. New York: Pocket Books, 2004. Print.

Wilson, Joe W. The 761st "Black Panther" Tank Battalion in World War II. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 1999. p53.

[ spoiler ] The Tip of PATTON's SPEAR [ / spoiler ]