Commander Everett Alvarez, Jr.,
USN (ret.) endured one of the longest periods as a prisoner of war in American history. Commander Everett Alvarez, as the
first American POW held in North Vietnam, spent over 8 years in captivity; the second longest-held POW in American history.
Alvarez He joined the United States Navy in 1960 and was selected for pilot training. On August 5, 1964, during Operation
Pierce Arrow, Lieutenant j.g. Alvarez's plane was shot down in what was known as the Gulf of Tonkin Incident. Alvarez
endured eight years and six months of brutal captivity by the North Vietnamese, in which he was repeatedly beaten and tortured.
Alvarez was especially esteemed
by his fellow prisoners because he was for almost a year the only aviator prisoner of war. There is a story about a White
House reception he attended upon his release. John Wayne was introduced to him and broke down telling him "I only play
a hero, you are a hero".
his return to the United States in 1973, Alvarez decided to stay in the Navy and retired as Commander in 1980. He later earned
a Master's Degree in Operations and Research Analysis and a Juris Doctor degree. He then went on to become Deputy Director
of both the Peace Corps and Veterans Administration. Everett Alvarez is the author of Chained
Eagle: The Heroic Story of the First American Shot Down over North Vietnam and Code of Conduct.
The Library Journal said of Code
of Conduct, “This memoir by Alvarez follows (and perfectly complements) Chained Eagle ( LJ 11/1/89). It
details his experiences after repatriation from a North Vietnamese POW prison, as well as recounting his youth and the events
that built the character which found strength to endure those eight-and-a-half years. He describes how he readjusted to civilian
life after his retirement from the Navy and became first an administrator in the Peace Corps, and then Deputy Director of
the Veteran's Administration. But worse times were coming, and ultimately this is his thesis: that by adopting a set of
values one never abandons, the stresses of life become manageable. He and other POWs insist their experiences convinced them
of that. As inspirational reading this is refreshingly undoctrinal; as memoir it entertains as well as his first book.”
According to the book description of
Chained Eagle: The Heroic Story of the First American Shot Down over North Vietnam, “Navy
Lieutenant Alvarez, a pilot, was shot down over North Vietnam in 1964 and held prisoner until 1973. In this engrossing account
of the experience written with freelancer Pitch, he emerges as a duty-bound officer who held fast to his religious faith and
"the values enshrined in the Constitution." The book is a top-drawer POW memoir, but what sets it apart is its unblinking
concurrent narration of the Alvarez family's ordeal. His sister became an antiwar activist, and Alvarez's discovery
of this had a demoralizing effect. A more severe psychological crisis revolved around the coldness of his wife's letters,
a situation that reached its climax when she divorced him for another man. Alvarez's anguished response to the news amid
dreadful physical conditions, and the manifest kindness of his comrades in captivity, is movingly told. In an upbeat conclusion,
the prisoner's release is joyously described.”