Lieutenant Colonel Julian J. Rivera graduated from the Virginia Military Institute and was commissioned a Second Lieutenant through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps program in May of 1996. Upon graduation from the Basic School in January 1997, he reported to NAS Pensacola, Florida, for flight training and was designated a Naval Aviator in April 1999.
Assigned to Marine Aircraft Group 26 at MCAS New River, North Carolina, First Lieutenant Rivera joined HMLA-167 for duty flying the UH-1N “Huey” and deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom with the Aviation Combat Element of the 22d Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) shortly after the attacks of 9/11 2001. In early 2003, Captain Rivera was selected to augment Marine Light Attack Helicopter 269 and by mid-January, aboard the USS Saipan, he deployed with Task Force East and 2d Marine Expeditionary Brigade to kick off combat operations in Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
In December of 2003, Captain Rivera volunteered to transfer to Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron 775 Detachment “A”, a Marine Reserve unit located in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, in order to assist with their 24 month mobilization and concurrent deployment to Iraq. By February 2004, Captain Rivera was back in Iraq serving as a primary Flight Leader conducting such missions as close air support, aerial reconnaissance, and special operations, in areas such as Fallujah, Bagdad, and Ar Ramadi. After returning in September 2004, Captain Rivera returned to Al Taqquadum Airfield, Iraq in March 2005, in support of Security and Stabilization Operation in Iraq. In October 2005, Captain Rivera returned home and in 2006 ended his tour with the Coyotes as their Assistant Aircraft Maintenance Officer.
In July 2006, he left active duty and joined his former Squadron, HMLA-775 Det A, as a reservist.
In 2009, he left the newly converted HMLA-773 Det B and joined the Marine Corps Mobilization Command’s Peace Time/War Time Support Team, assigned to “I” Battery, 3rd BN 14th Marines in Reading, Pennsylvania. Charged with assuming the duties of the I&I should the unit be mobilized, as well as managing the local Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) Marines within that geographical area, Major Rivera deployed with 3/14 on multiple training evolutions. Working his way up from Site OIC at “I” Btry, to Group OIC, representing units from Baltimore to Upstate New York, on to the Operations Officer for the entire Northeastern U.S., he provided the IRR Marines with a chain of command to assist them with civilian job placement, active reserve opportunities, as well as navigate the VAs benefits and programs.
In July 2014, Lieutenant Colonel Rivera returned to MAG-49 as the full time ACE lead planner for Integrated Training Exercise 4-15, and in the Summer of 2015 remained on active duty to serve as the MAG-49 Site Commander for Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
His personal decorations include the Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with 22 Strike/Flight awards, as well as two individual Combat Valor awards, Navy Commendation Medal with the Combat “V” and Gold Star in lieu of second award, and two Navy Achievement Medals.