Captain Richard "GASH" Rivera hails from West Palm Beach, FL and graduated from the United States Naval Academy in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering. After commission, he reported to NAS Pensacola for initial flight training in March 1995.
Having completed advanced strike training with VT-22, Captain Rivera was designated a Naval Aviator at NAS Kingsville, TX in February 1997. Subsequently, he completed follow on training at NAS Cecil Field, FL with the East Coast F/A-18 Fleet Replacement Squadron, the VFA-106 "Gladiators." His first fleet tour was with the VFA-37 "Bulls" in Cecil Field. With the Bulls, he completed two deployments, one on USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and one on USS Truman (CVN 75), both to the Central Command area of responsibility supporting Operation SOUTHERN WATCH.
Captain Rivera was ordered back to VFA-106 as an instructor pilot, where he served as schedules officer and strike phase head. Following instructor duty, he arrived at CVW-5 as the strike operations officer, making numerous western pacific deployments onboard USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63). Gash stayed with the Forward Deployed Naval Forces for his department head tour in the VFA-195 "Dambusters," embarking on further deployments aboard USS Kitty Hawk. He served as the safety, maintenance, and operations officer while in VFA-195.
In 2008, Captain Rivera was ordered to Headquarters, Allied Command Transformation, Norfolk, VA, where he served as a combat identification (CID) subject matter expert, responsible for NATO's standardization of future CID capabilities in the Alliance. During this tour, he completed his executive masters of business administration, graduating with distinction and receiving the Rear Admiral Thomas R. McClellan Award for Academic Excellence in the Graduate School of Business and Public Policy from the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, CA.
Captain Rivera was selected for command and ordered to the VFA-81 "Sunliners" as the executive officer, deploying to the western pacific onboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70). He took command in December of 2011, leading the squadron through its second of two deployments onboard the USS Carl Vinson. While in VFA-81, he led the squadron's support of Operation NEW DAWN and Operation ENDURING FREEDOM.
Upon completion of his command tour, Captain Rivera was selected to joint duty at the United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) at MacDill AFB, FL. While assigned to the Force Management Directorate (FMD-J9-D), he served as the lessons learned branch chief and doctrine/lessons learned division chief.
Captain Rivera proceeded to the United States Naval Academy in July 2015, serving as the Deputy Commandant of Midshipmen.
Captain Rivera assumed command of Training Air Wing TWO in July 2017.
Captain Rivera has amassed over 3,500 flight hours, with over 3,000 hours in the F/A-18 (A-F) Hornet, and 819 carrier arrested landings. His decorations include the Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal (2 awards), Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal (3 Strike Flight awards), Navy Commendation Medal (3 awards), and Navy Achievement Medal (2 awards, 1 with combat "V"), along with various unit commendations and service/campaign awards.