Unanticipated Connections: The Rivera Family and the Daedalian Network

by Lt. Gen. Nick Kehoe, USAF (Ret.), Previous National Commander

Emily and Melissa Rivera

During my recent trip to Kodiak, I had a neat experience showing how amazing the Daedalian network across the nation and world can be. After presenting the 2019 USCG Exceptional Aviator Award to LT Bowers, the pilot who had been looking after me had to fly. He asked three senior USCG Academy cadets assigned at Kodiak for their summer program to take me to the airport for my circuitous flight to Sitka for the 2020 Exceptional Aviator presentation the next morning. 

After giving me a “tour” of Kodiak (took about one minute), we had a little extra time, so I invited them to lunch. When we walked into a randomly picked restaurant, one of the cadets, Emily Rivera, saw her mother and grandmother sitting in the back having lunch. They were in Kodiak visiting her. 

Cadet Rivera went over to say hello. We sat at another table some distance away. When she came back, I was describing the Daedalians, who we are, our heritage, what we do, etc. Emily suddenly piped up with, “My mother won one of your awards in the early 2000s”. After she gave me a few more details, I looked it up on our website and sure enough her mother, Melissa Rivera, had won the 2002 USCG Exceptional Aviator Award. 

I had Emily take her phone over to show her mother, with the Exceptional Pilot/Aviator awards page pulled up so she could share how we memorialize our award winners. When Emily came back, I also learned that her mother a previous station commander at Kodiak, is still on active duty and has been selected for O-7 flag rank.  

While we were waiting for our food, I decided to go over and congratulate her on her promotion and for winning one of our awards in its early days. The first USCG award we presented was in 1999. I also commended the grandmother on having a daughter and granddaughter who undoubtedly made her very proud. 

I am always in awe of how dots sometimes get connected in faraway places when you least expect it.