On April 13, 2011, CACI Chairman of the Board Dr. J.P. (Jack) London presented CDR Everett Alvarez Jr., USN (Ret.), the longest-held American POW in the Vietnam War, with the National Maritime Historical Society’s Distinguished Service Award at the Society’s 2011 Washington Awards Dinner at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. The text of his remarks is below.
“Distinguished Award Recipients, Distinguished Flag Officers, and distinguished executives of the U.S. Government, Ladies and Gentlemen, I have a very great honor tonight. We are here to recognize a great American, great patriot, and a Naval Aviator of incredible courage and determination. There is no one more deserving. I have known Ev Alvarez for many years. He and his wife Tammy are dear friends of mine and Jennifer. We have shared many memorable occasions and we do so again tonight.
So, let me tell you about my dear friend’s amazing story. It begins in 1964 at the start of the Vietnam War – with the famous “Tonkin Gulf Incident.” In response to North Vietnamese Navy attacks on the USS Maddox on August 2nd 1964, the U.S. Aircraft Carrier “Constellation” prepared for action. The mission was to attack enemy PT-boat facilities.
During this mission, on August 5, 1964, Ltjg Everett Alvarez, Jr., flying a U.S. Navy A4C Skyhawk, from Attack Squadron VA 144, aboard USS Constellation, was shot down at Ha Long Bay in North Vietnam. His was the first American plane shot down over North Vietnam. By August 12th, he was in the infamous “Hanoi Hilton” prison.
Eight and a half years later, on February 12, 1973, Everett Alvarez was repatriated with the general release of American prisoners. Upon returning to the United States, he decided to stay in the Navy, retiring in 1980 with the rank of Commander. His personal military decorations include the Silver Star, two Legions of Merit, two Bronze Stars, the Distinguished Flying Cross and two Purple Heart Medals.
Since his retirement, Everett Alvarez has served as the Deputy Director of the Peace Corps, the Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration, and Chairman of the CARES Commission, an independent panel recommending critical change within the Department of Veterans Affairs. In 2004 he founded Alvarez and Associates, a premiere information technology and executive management services company. He has also co-authored two books about his experiences: Chained Eagle and Code of Conduct.
Everett Alvarez has been honored with the Nixon Foundation’s “Great American Hero Award” and the “George Alexander Memorial Volunteer Service Award” by the Blinded American Veterans Foundation. And in his home town of Salinas, California, the Everett Alvarez High School is named in his honor.
In recognition of his service and continuing efforts on behalf of American veterans, I am honored to present Commander Everett Alvarez with the National Maritime Historical Society’s Distinguished Service Award. And, in so doing, the Society also recognizes and honors the service of all of the prisoners of war from that conflict. Please welcome a true American hero … Everett Alvarez.”