Wendy Rivers was born on July 6, 1928, in Seward, Nebraska. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on July 9, 1946, and entered the U.S. Naval Academy on June 17, 1948. Rivers was commissioned an Ensign on June 6, 1952, and then served for a year aboard the destroyer USS Agerholm (DD-826) in support of the Korean War before entering flight school in 1953. He was designated a Naval Aviator in March 1954, and then served in Naval Aviation on the West Coast at San Diego, Moffett Field, Monterey, Point Mugu, and Lemoore, California. LCDR Rivers deployed to Southeast Asia with Attack Squadron 155, flying A-4 Skyhawks from the USS Coral Sea (CVA-43), in December 1964, and he was forced to eject over North Vietnam and was taken as a Prisoner of War while flying his 96th combat mission on September 10, 1965. After spending 2,712 days in captivity, CAPT Rivers was released during Operation Homecoming on February 12, 1973. After recovering from his injuries, he was assigned to Naval Air Systems Command in Washington, D.C., until his retirement from the Navy on December 31, 1976. Wendy worked as a truck driver for 20 years after retiring from the Navy, and died on May 9, 2009. He was buried at the Seward Cemetery in Seward, Nebraska.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity while interned as a Prisoner of War in North Vietnam from 14 to 15 July 1966. His captors, completely ignoring international agreements, subjected him to extreme mental and physical cruelties in an attempt to obtain military information and false confessions for propaganda purposes. Through his resistance to those brutalities, he contributed significantly toward the eventual abandonment of harsh treatment by the North Vietnamese, which was attracting international attention. By his determination, courage, resourcefulness, and devotion to duty, he reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Naval Service and the United States Armed Forces.