Based on six interviews conducted by Dr. John T. Mason, Jr., from May 1975 through November 1975 The volume contains 657 pages of interview transcript plus an index and appendices. The transcript is copyright 1978 by the U.S. Naval Institute; the restrictions originally placed on the transcript by the interviewee have since been removed.
Admiral Rivero came to the Academy from Puerto Rico and after graduation and sea duty, attended MIT, receiving a master of science degree in Electrical Engineering. During World War II he served in the cruisers USS San Juan (CL-54) and USS Pittsburgh (CA-72); he participated in the landings at Guadalcanal-Tulagi, a raid on the Gilberts, Battle of Santa Cruz Islands, South and Central Pacific Campaigns, Solomons, capture of the Gilbert Islands, Kwajalein, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. In 1948 he was on the staff of Commander, Joint Task Force Seven, during atomic weapons tests in Eniwetok. During the Cuban Crisis in 1962-63 he was in command of Amphibious Force Atlantic. In 1964 he became VCNO under Admiral McDonald; later was CinC, Allied Forces, Southern Europe. Following his retirement in 1972, he was named as the U.S. Ambassador to Spain, earning him the sobriquet of the "Ambassador with the Seven League Boots."
In the following selection from his second interview with Dr. John T. Mason Jr. at his home in Coronado, CA, in November 1975, Admiral Rivero discusses the June 1945 typhoon which damaged USS Pittsburgh (CA-72), of which he was Executive Officer, and his lifesaving actions thereon which earned him the Legion of Merit.
Admiral Rivero: It was quite a storm. We were making, I forget how many knots, the engine turns for x-number of knots, but we were hardly making any headway — we were barging right into the seas. And I remember early in the morning, before dawn, I got worried about big pieces of equipment breaking loose, because the ship was working so heavily in the seas and rolling so. So I suggested to the captain, and he agreed, that we set "material condition Zebra,” which is what you set when you go to general quarters, and to tighten everything up, close all the watertight doors, and everybody gets out of certain areas, so that everything would be secured. Which is very fortunate, because when you set “material condition Zebra,” the forward part of the ship is not occupied. Everyone leaves that area and it is closed up. And when that part broke off, we had no casualties.
Doctor Mason: Nobody on that.
Admiral Rivero: Nobody there. We'd taken them out fortuitously by setting "condition Zebra.” And so we had no losses. But then we had the problem of keeping the ship from sinking after the bow broke off. I saw it. I was up on the bridge with the captain, and first thing I saw was that the bow was moving up and down, and it finally just wrenched off, and 125 feet of the ship just broke off.