When high school senior Horacio Rivero Jr. took the Navy medical exam in San Juan, Puerto Rico, for admission to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1927, he received a waiver for his weight of 112 pounds.
I almost didn’t make it because at just under five feet, two inches, I was too short. Fortunately, the head of the Board, a captain, was also short. He put his thumb at the bottom of the tape, stretched it, and got that quarter inch to put me over the top.
During plebe year at the Academy, an officer had trouble looking down and reading the name stenciled on Rivero’s blouse. “What’s your name?” the officer asked. “Rivets?” Thus, Horacio “Rivets” Rivero was born. He would carry the nickname proudly from midshipman, to four-star Vice Chief of Naval Operations, and beyond.
Following commissioning in 1931, Rivero honed his skills in ordnance engineering and would serve on board battleships and cruisers into the Battle of the Pacific. In this edited excerpt from his Naval Institute oral history, Rivero recalls two experiences in combat as executive officer of the cruiser USS Pittsburgh (CA-72) in 1944–45.