This page was last updated on: January 22, 2003

Sergeant Vincent Rios is definitely
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the BRONZE STAR MEDAL to:



for service as set forth in the following:

"For meritorious service while servinq as a Platoon Leader, 2d Platoon, Company "A", 1st Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division in connection with operations aqainst Communist aggression (Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army Forces) in the Republic of Vietnam from 25 Auqust 1968 to 6 February 1969.

Throuqhout this period, Sergeant RIOS displayed exceptional professional skill, resourcefulness and leadership in the performance of his demanding duties.  He exhibited sound judgment and uncommon ability as he forqed his Marines into a superb fighting unit capable of executing all assigned missions with thoroughness and dispatch.  Sergeant RIOS was sincerely interested in the welfare and safety of his men and continually provided explicit and meaningful guidance encouraging them to exert a maximum effort at all times. When in contact with the enemy, he repeatedly exposed himself to hostile fire while maneuverinq his platoon into fighting positions.  During the afternoon of 6 February - while leading his unit in a platoon size sweep in Quanq Nam Province, Sergeant RIOS was seriously injured by an enemy explosive device.  Despite his painful injuries, Sergeant RIOS remained in complete control of the situation, turning his platoon over to the next senior man and then directinq the efforts of the medical evacuation in a calm and professional manner. By his courage in the face of enemy fire, uncommon initiative, and selfless devotion to duty throughout, Serqeant RIOS upheld the highest traditions of the United States Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.

Sergeant RIOS is authorized to wear the Combat 'V.

Tab Hunter with our A.F. Vince Rios
Send an e-mail to Vince

Vincent Rios and his wife, the former Cheryl Whitt, have five children the oldest of whom is a U.S. Naval Academy graduate and now a Marine Major piloting helicopters.

Sergeant Rios served, during the Vietnam war, with Alpha-One-Five as a Pfc automatic rifleman, 2nd Platoon, 2nd Squad, 3rd fire team in 1965.  In July of 1965, Rios landed with his unit, E/2/9, at Danang, Vietnam.  In November of 1965 he was transferred to A/1/1 before returning to the states in June of 1966.

In 1966-67, Cpl. Rios was a Correctional Custody instructor at Camp Pendleton until volunteering to return to Vietnam in 1968.  During this second tour of duty he served first as a squad leader, then platoon sergeant and lastly as platoon commander for 2nd Platoon, Alpha-One-Five until that day he'll never forget in 1969.

Sergeant Vincent Rios and his men were out patrolling the "bush" when a chopper was sent to retrieve him.  He was to return home to the states in six days and they went to bring him out of harm's way.  Seeing the chopper brought no one to replace him, he refused to leave his men.

Within 48 hours of that monumental decision Rios set off a booby-trap explosive device which resulted in the loss of both legs entirely, the entire loss of his right arm and partial amputation of the index and ring fingers on his left hand.  That day, six days from going home, February 6, 1969 Sgt. Rios' life would forever be changed.

In July of 1969, after many months in the veteran's hospitals Vince received a 100 percent combat-wounded disability retirement from his beloved United States Marine Corps.  Where to now??  But Vince did not take time to feel sorry for himself - instead he launched into getting trained for his lifetime career.

At a time before the Americans with Disabilities Act; before handicap accessible restrooms were readily available; before wheelchair access to classrooms; before handicapped curb cuts - Vince proved you can do it if you really want to.  He went on to obtain four degrees. 

Rios received an Associate in  Arts degree in Behavioral Science from San Diego Mesa College in 1973.  He earned a Master's degree in Urban-State-Federal Governance from Golden Gate University in 1983 and holds a B.A. in Psychology and an M.A. in Social Science from S.F. State U. 

Commissioner  Rios sat on the San Mateo County Civil Service Commission from 1979 to 1989 with 2-terms as Chairman of The Commission.  He is the former chairman of the US Department of Health and Human Services - Region IX International Year of Disabled Persons Committee and is the former editor of a Bay Area Federal Executive Board newsletter.  Mr Rios sat on the Community Advisory Board for Sumitomo Bank of California and is a member or Golden Gate University's Alumni Council.

Vincent Rios served as Manpower Development Specialist for the U.S. Dept. of Labor's Employment and Training Administration from 1977 to 1979 and from '79 to 84 he was an Equal Opportunity Specialist with the US Dep't. of Health and Human Services.

As the State Supervisor of California's Employment Development Dept for Veterans' Job Training (84--87), Vince's major duties were planning, managing and supervising the Job Service implementation of the Federal Contractor Job Listing Program and the Veterans Job training with the Veteran's Administration and the U.S. Department of Labor.

He is also the former Region IX Veterans' Affairs Offcer for the US Small Business Administration.  He ensured, for veteran entrepreneurs, access to quality SBA resources in California. Arizona, Nevada. Hawaii and Guam.  He supervised SBA Regional, District and Branch Veterans Program operations from 1987 until 1989.

Vincent Rios has dedicated his life to serving veterans, minorities and disabled persons.  In 1989 he was appointed, and currently continues, to serve as the Assistant Regional Administrator, Department of Labor's Veterans Employment and Training Service - for both regions 9 and 10.  In this capacity he helps track regional veterans' program's results and how federal monies are spent for veteran's programs by eight states in the two regions.

Vince Rios chats with Nancy PIess at the Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association Reunion 2000.   Mrs. Pless is the mother of the late Major Stephen Pless, USMC, Medal of Honor recipient for conspicuous galantry while helo evacuating casualties in Vietnam.

Vince's Military Decorations and Awards

· Bronze Stars (2) with "V" for valor devices
· Purple Hearts (he had been shot twice before the last      grievous wounds from the explosive device)
· Presidential Unit Citations
· Meritorious Unit Commendations
· Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with Palm (2)
· Vietnam Service Medal Four times
· Navy Unit Commendation
· National Defense Service Medal
· Combat Action Ribbon
· Good Conduct Medal


The California State Society of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution Outstanding Veteran Patient 1999 AND the Southwest Division recipient of the Outstanding Veteran Patient 1999 award
California's Governor's Committee for employment of Disabled Persons Professional at the Year Award - 1999
Disabled American Veterans, Department of California - Disabled Veteran of the Year - 1999
Federal Executive Board's Employee of the Year Award Disabled 1998
Federal Executive Board's Quad Council Affirmative Action Achievement Award - 1998
Golden Gate University Alumnus of the year - 1996
"Sgt Vincent Rios' Warfare Study Center" dedicated by the Fourth Marine Division - 1996
Department of Labor "Wall of Fame" Award 1994 (the first recipient of the award)
Federal Executive Board Employee of the Year Award - 1981
Outstanding Handicapped Federal Employee - 1981
South San Francisco Outstanding Citizen of the Year Award - 1981


· Board of Directors - Marines Memorial Club
· Golden Gate University's Alumni Council - Emeritus
· Past National Deputy Vice President - West Coast, First           Marine Division Association
· Current President and twice Past President, Northern              California Chapter, First Marine Division Association
· Past Trustee - Northern California Chapter) First Marine          Division Association
· Twice Past Chairman and Past Commissioner - San Mateo      County CiviI Service Commission
· Past Board Member, Community Advisory Board                   Sumitomo Bank of California
· Founder - Save Sign Hill Coalition to preserve and                 protect open space lands in South San Francisco
· Honorary Advisory Board - American Veterans Newspaper
· Past President, Caminar's Mental Health Center Board of        Directors
· Past chairman, US Department of Health and Human             Services Region IX International year of disabled                 persons committee.
· Past Editor - Bay Area Federal Executive Board Newsletter

February, 2001 issue Always Faithful
Vince, before going to Nam.
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