Story by U.S. Army Sgt. Elliot Alagueuzian
FORT HOOD (Now designated Fort Cavazos), Texas -Kids across the world grow up with a desire to be their favorite superhero. For Fernando Rivera his desire was simply to have the ability to fly.
Having grown up with a father that served 25 years in the U.S. Army, the structure and discipline of being a Soldier has always been there for him. Rivera’s father set ground rules for him to follow such as always being on time, always look good when leaving the house and keep your room clean. Another lesson that was taught was to always be respectful to others.
However, a difficult aspect of growing up as an “Army brat” is the constant moving.
“One thing I saw was that my father was moving around a lot,” Rivera said. “We were going from Texas to Alabama back to Texas and then to Puerto Rico.”
After attending college for a year, Rivera quickly realized he needed a more challenging environment and a higher sense of purpose. That is where his journey quickly took off.
“My daily job started getting repetitive and became tiring,” Rivera stated. “It did not give me the peace of mind that I wanted. I went to the recruiter’s office, and they started talking to me about a new job in the Army.”
Having his father alongside him, provided crucial knowledge of what he would be doing as an unmanned aerial vehicle operator (UAV). He was excited by the thought of spending more time on the flightline than he would in the motor pool servicing vehicles.
After speaking with the recruiters and guidance from his father, Rivera became convinced that the next step of his life would be enlisting into the U.S. Army as a UAV operator. After completing Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training, he took the opportunity to deploy as a Trooper in the 1st Cavalry Division as part of Atlantic Resolve, in Europe engaging with various foreign nations.
Since returning from Europe, Rivera has expressed his motivation to continue flying drones and serving with his fellow service members, has only increased.
“All I wanted to do was fly,” Rivera said. “I wanted to get as many hours as I could. I am currently an aircraft commander and I’m flying these drones all the time. I also have my second family, like all my fellow operators and maintenance guys in our platoon we are all super close with each other.”
According to Rivera, this tight knit community contributes greatly to the success of their missions.
“They know that if something starts happening to the bird, I’m immediately trying to troubleshoot, make sure everything is good to go.” Rivera added. “We are all working hand in hand to be able to land the bird safely or keep it up as long as possible.”
Rivera is aspiring to continue his career for as long as possible with the hopes of one day outranking his father. For a Trooper with unwavering commitment to his craft and a strong group of people to support him, the sky is the limit for Spc. Fernando Rivera.