The United States Post Office (USPO) Meadowbrook Station has been designated as the “Lance Corporal Thomas E. Rivers Jr. Post Office Building” in a ceremony held on Tuesday.
The official dedication comes as the result of legislation introduced by Congressman Gary Palmer (R-AL 6) to honor Rivers, a Hoover native who was killed in action while serving with the United States Marine Corps in Afghanistan in 2010. The legislation was signed into law by President Donald Trump on July 24.
“Lance Corporal Thomas Rivers was a courageous young man who laid down his life in service to our country,” Palmer remarked at the dedication ceremony. “He knew from a young age that God had called him to be a Marine and he was determined to live up to that calling. While his loss is still deeply felt in our community, his strong faith in God and his courage and selfless commitment to his fellow Marines should challenge and inspire us all.
“I hope every person who looks at this building and sees the name Lance Corporal Thomas Rivers will be reminded of not only his sacrifice, but of the sacrifices of all those who have gone into harm’s way to defend our freedom. I’m proud to be part of this dedication alongside his mother and father and with his family and friends to honor his service and sacrifice.”
Rivers grew up in Hoover, AL, the son of Dr. Tom and Charon Rivers. Both of his grandfathers were combat veterans and he showed interest in the Marines from an early age. He attended Briarwood High School and wrote a ninth-grade essay titled “Why I Want to be a Marine.” In it, he wrote that he believed God’s plan for him was to be a warrior and that this path would teach him to rely on God. According to his parents, Rivers was not the best athlete or top student, but his determination drove him to work hard to reach his goal of becoming a Marine.
At 17, Rivers joined an “early entry” Marine recruiting program that allowed him to participate in training regimens and classes before he officially joined. Upon his high school graduation in 2007, he formally enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps and went on to complete boot camp in Parris Island, South Carolina.
In March 2008, Rivers’ battalion was deployed to Iraq, from which he returned safely seven months later. In his early days as a Marine, his faith in God became stronger and he expressed confidence that God was watching over him. He had his favorite Bible verse, Psalm 91:1, tattooed across his back: “He that dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.”
After his first deployment, Rivers trained for another year and was then deployed to Afghanistan in March 2010. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment, 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force, which supported combat operations in the Helmand Province. On the morning of Wednesday, April 28, 2010, he tragically lost his life by an improvised explosive device (IED). He was 22 years old.
Briarwood Christian School has established the Thomas Rivers Jr. Warriors Scholarship in Rivers’ honor, and Dr. and Mrs. Rivers have started the nonprofit organization “Support Our Soldiers,” which sends care packages to deployed troops. Their hope is that the program will help spread Rivers’ love for his country and for God.
Rivers is buried at the Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo and is the first soldier killed in action to be buried there.