Everett Alvarez Jr.

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Everett Alvarez Jr.
330-CFD-DD-ST-99-04354 (24527092519).jpg
Alvarez in February 1973, speaking after his release from captivity
Born (1937-12-23) December 23, 1937 (age 82)
Salinas, California, U.S.
AllegianceUnited States
Branch United States Navy
Years of service1960–1980
RankUS-O5 insignia.svg Commander
Battles/warsVietnam War
AwardsSilver Star
Legion of Merit (2)
Distinguished Flying Cross
Bronze Star Medal (2)
Purple Heart (2)
Other workDeputy Director, Peace Corps
Deputy Director, Veterans Administration
Founder Alvarez & Associates

Everett Alvarez Jr. (born December 23, 1937) is a former United States Navy officer who endured one of the longest periods as a prisoner of war (POW) in U.S. military history. Alvarez was the first U.S. pilot to be downed and detained during the Vietnam War and spent over eight years in captivity, making him the second longest-held U.S. POW, after U.S. Army Colonel Floyd James Thompson.

Early life and captivity[edit]

Alvarez was born in 1937 in Salinas, California.[1] He is the grandson of immigrants from Mexico.[2] He went to Santa Clara University on an academic scholarship.[3] He joined the United States Navy in 1960 and was selected for pilot training. On August 5, 1964, during Operation Pierce Arrow, LTJG. Alvarez's Douglas A-4 Skyhawk was shot down in the immediate aftermath of what is known as the Gulf of Tonkin incident. Alvarez endured eight years and seven months of brutal captivity by the North Vietnamese at the Hỏa Lò Prison (sarcastically known as the "Hanoi Hilton" by fellow POWs), in which he was repeatedly beaten and tortured.[4] [5] Alvarez was especially esteemed by his fellow prisoners because he was for almost a year the only aviator prisoner of war.[6]

Back in the United States[edit]

He was released on February 12, 1973[7] as part of the first group of American POWs repatriated under Operation Homecoming, after spending 3,113 days in captivity. After hospitalization, Alvarez briefly attended refresher flight training with VT-21 at NAS Kingsville and then attended the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School, where he received a master's degree in Operations Research and Systems Analysis in October 1976. His final assignment was in Program Management at the Naval Air Systems Command in Washington, D.C., from October 1976 until his retirement from the Navy on June 30, 1980.

Alvarez has co-authored two books, writing of his prisoner of war experiences in Chained Eagle and Code Of Conduct. Everett Alvarez High School in his native Salinas, California is named after him. There is also a park named in his honor in Santa Clara, California and a post office named in his honor in Montgomery County, Maryland.

A subdivision at Naval Air Station Lemoore in California was named after Alvarez during his internment.

In 2012, the Mobile, Alabama chapter of the Association of Naval Services Officers (ANSO) was named after Alvarez.

The Lone Sailor Award was given to Alvarez in Washington, D.C. on September 18, 2012.[8] This award is given to sea service veterans who have excelled with distinction in their respective civilian careers while exemplifying the U.S. Navy's stated core values of honor, courage and commitment.[9]

Post-military Life[edit]

Lieutenant Commander Everett Alvarez Jr., "Welcome Home" Sketch by combat artist, Dante H. Bertoni.

Alvarez retired from the U.S. Navy with the rank of commander in 1980. He later earned a Master's Degree in Operations and Research Analysis and a Juris Doctor degree, and in April 1981, he was appointed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan to the post of Deputy Director of the Peace Corps. In July 1982, President Reagan nominated and the U.S. Senate confirmed him as Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration (VA). After six years with the VA he was appointed by President Reagan in 1988 to the Board of Regents of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS) in Bethesda, Maryland. Alvarez served on that board for almost 21 years, including serving as Chairman of the Board twice. Alvarez has served on the President's Task Force to improve Health Care Delivery for our Nation's Veterans and recently chaired the VA's Capital Asset Realignment and Enhancement Study Commission (CARES). Alvarez also serves on Grantham University's independent Board of Governors.

In 2015, Alvarez with his sister Delia were featured in a Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) documentary by producer Mylène Moreno On Two Fronts: Latinos & Vietnam.[10]

Alvarez is a lifetime member of the Board of Fellows of Santa Clara University. He served on the Board of Directors of the International Graduate University of Democracy in Washington, DC. He served on the College of William & Mary Washington, DC Council. He has served on the White House Board of Fellows Selection Committee and on the Board of Directors of the Armed Services YMCA of the USA. He is on the Library of Congress Veterans History Project Five Star Council Advisory Committee. In 2004, Alvarez founded Alvarez & Associates, an IT consulting firm in Washington, D.C. which sells IT services to the U.S. government.[11] In March 2014, Alvarez was appointed to the Vietnam War Commemoration Advisory Council by the U.S. Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel.

Personal life[edit]

Alvarez is married and father to two children.

Military awards[edit]

He is the recipient of the Silver Star, two Legions of Merit, two Bronze Star Medals, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and two Purple Heart Medals.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Tucker, Spencer C. (2011-05-20). Encyclopedia of the Vietnam War, The: A Political, Social, and Military ... google.ca. ISBN 9781851099610. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  2. ^ "AII POW-MIA InterNetwork". Archived from the original on 2005-02-23. Retrieved 2008-03-05.
  3. ^ "Pilgrimage: California Golden Bears Memorial Stadium". ESPN.com. Archived from the original on 17 November 2009. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  4. ^ https://books.google.com/books/about/Chained_Eagle.html?id=Iyu0f1wevpMC Archived 2016-05-31 at the Wayback Machine Chained Eagle: The Heroic Story of the First American Shot Down Over North Vietnam
  5. ^ Roberts, Steven V (March 4, 1973). "Unshakable Will to Survive Sustainaned POWs over the years". The New York Times. Retrieved June 19, 2019.
  6. ^ "Hispanic Former Combat Pilot Talks About POW Experiences". DOD. October 13, 2004. Archived from the original on June 6, 2014. Retrieved June 5, 2014.
  7. ^ "POWs excellent! Weigh early return", Chicago Tribune, February 13, 1973, p1
  8. ^ "CALENDAR". navymemorial.org. Archived from the original on 22 October 2015. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  9. ^ http://www.lindarothpr.com/2012/08/commander-everett-alvarez-to-receive-coveted-lone-sailor-award/[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ "PBS". Archived from the original on 2018-12-23. Retrieved 2018-12-22.
  11. ^ Alvarez & Associates. "Alvarez & Associates". alvarezassociates.com. Archived from the original on 18 July 2015. Retrieved 19 September 2015.
  12. ^ Alvarez & Associates. "Alvarez & Associates". alvarezassociates.com. Archived from the original on 18 July 2015. Retrieved 19 September 2015.


  • Alvarez, Everett, and Anthony Pitch. Chained Eagle. New York: D.I. Fine, 1989. ISBN 1556111673

External links[edit]