ALVAREZ, EVERETT JR.
ALVAREZ, EVERETT JR.
Name: Everett Alvarez Jr. Rank/Branch: O3/US Navy Unit: Attack Squadron 144, USS CONSTELLATION Date of Birth: Home City of Record: Santa Clara CA Date of Loss: 05 August 1964 Country of Loss: North Vietnam Loss Coordinates: 105600N 1070800E (YJ218160) Status (in 1973): Released POW Category: Aircraft/Vehicle/Ground: A4C Refno: 0035
Other Personnel in Incident: Richard C. Sather (remains returned)
Source: Compiled by Homecoming II Project 15 May 1990 from one or more of the following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with POW/MIA families, published sources, interviews. Updated by the P.O.W. NETWORK 2008.
REMARKS: 730212 RELSD BY DRV
SYNOPSIS: By midsummer 1964 events were taking place in the Gulf of Tonkin that would lead to the first clash between U.S. and North Vietnamese forces. In late July the destroyer USS MADDOX, on patrol in the gulf gathering intelligence, had become the object of communist attention. For two consecutive days, 31 July-1 August, the MADDOX cruised unencumbered along a predesignated route off the North Vietnamese coast. In the early morning hours of 2 August, however, it was learned from intelligence sources of a possible attack against the destroyer.
The attack by three North Vietnamese P-4 torpedo boats (PT boats) materialized just after 4:00 p.m. on August 2. The MADDOX fired off three warning volleys, then opened fire. Four F-8 Crusaders from the aircraft carrier USS TICONDEROGA, also took part in the skirmish. The result of the twenty-minute affair saw one gunboat sunk and another crippled. The MADDOX, ordered out of the gulf after the incident concluded, was hit by one 14.5 mm shell.
A day later the MADDOX, accompanied by the destroyer USS C. TURNER JOY, received instructions to reenter the gulf and resume patrol. The USS CONSTELLATION, on a Hong Kong port visit was ordered to join the TICONDEROGA stationed at the mouth of the gulf in the South China Sea. The two destroyers cruised without incident on August 3 an din the daylight hours of August 4 moved to the middle of the gulf. Parallel to the movements of the C. TURNER JOY and MADDOX, South Vietnamese gunboats launched attacks on several North Vietnamese radar installation. The North Vietnamese believed the U.S. destroyers were connected to these strikes.
At 8:41 p.m. on August 4 both destroyers reportedly picked up fast-approaching contacts on their radars. Navy documents show the ships changed course to avoid the unknown vessels, but the contacts continued intermittently. At 10:39 p.m. when the MADDOX and C. TURNER JOY radars indicated one enemy vessel had closed to within seven thousand yards, the C. TURNER JOY was ordered to open fire and the MADDOX soon followed. For the next several hours, the destroyers, covered by the TICONDEROGA's and the CONSTELLATION's aircraft, reportedly evaded torpedoes and fired on their attackers.
Historians have debated, and will continue to do so, whether the destroyers were actually ever attacked. Most of the pilots flying that night spotted nothing. Stockdale, who would later earn the Medal of Honor, stated that a gunboat attack did not occur. The skipper of the TICONDEROGA's Attack Squadron 56, Commander Wesley L. McDonald, said he "didn't see anything that night except the MADDOX and the TURNER JOY."
President Lyndon B. Johnson reacted at once to the supposed attacks on the MADDOX, ordering retaliatory strikes on strategic points in North Vietnam. Even as the President spoke to the nation, aircraft from the CONSTELLATION and TICONDEROGA were airborne and heading for four major PT-boat bases along the North Vietnamese coast. The area of coverage ranged from a small base at Quang Khe 50 miles north of the demarcation line between North and South Vietnam, to the large base at Hon Gai in the north.
At 1:30 p.m. on August 5, 1964, a flight of sixteen aircraft from the TICONDEROGA on the Vinh hit petroleum storage complex in response to the presidential directive to destroy gunboats and supporting facilities in North Vietnam which the President indicated were used in the attack on the MADDOX. The results saw 90 percent of the storage facility at Vinh go up in flames.
Meanwhile, other coordinated attacks were made by aircraft from the CONSTELLATION on nearby Ben Thuy Naval Base, Quang Khe, Hon Me Island and Hon Gai's inner harbor. Skyraiders, Skyhawks and F8s bombed and rocketed the four areas, destroying or damaging an estimated twenty-five PT-boats, more than half of the North Vietnamese force.
LTJG Richard C. Sather was an A1 Skyraider pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 145 onboard the USS CONSTELLATION. During the retaliatory strikes, his "Spad" was hit by enemy fire just offshore from the city of Thanh Hoa, some 25 miles north of the island of Hon Me. No parachute was seen, and no emergency radio beepers were heard. It was generally agreed that Sather had died in the crash of his aircraft. He was declared Killed in Action, and his body was not recovered.
Among the pilots participating in the Hon Gai attack was LTJG Everett Alvarez Jr., an A4C Skyhawk pilot assigned to Attack Squadron 144 onboard the USS CONSTELLATION. His flight was given an ocean target right on the border with China, a port facility where the Chinese border meets North Vietnam. None of the pilots had ever flown this area. The CONSTELLATION pilots were briefed on a problem that would evidence itself several times later in the war -- it was paramount that they not come anywhere close to dropping bombs on Chinese soil when launching attacks on the Hon Gai area. Yet, looking at the map, pilots realized that "if you sneezed or did something wrong, the bomb could end up in China with no trouble at all."
Just before launch, the target was changed to Hon Gai. There was little time to study the new target, and then they were off in a mass "gaggle." The flight leader briefed them to expect PT boats tied up at the southeast pier.
When the aircraft reached the bay, however, Alvarez noted that the PT boats were out in the bay rather than at the pier. The flight rolled into two layers of smog--actually one layer of smog and one of anti-aircraft smoke. The pilots realized they were being fired on and noted that Alvarez had been hit.
Alvarez's call sign was Four-Eleven, and he came up on the air saying, "411, I'm hit," followed by "I can't control it. I'm ejecting." Accompanying aircraft heard his emergency beeper, made three or four orbits, and then were forced to leave the area because of low fuel states. Alvarez was captured about 4:00 pm Hanoi time at Ha Long Bay near the Hon Gai target. He was kept in a local jail cell in Hon Gai with two Vietnamese prisoners for two days, then moved to a nearby farm until August 12th. On the 12th, he was taken to Hanoi, arriving at Hoa Lo prison (later called the Hanoi Hilton) around 4:00 pm. He was put in room 24, where he lived until March of 1965 when other American prisoners started to arrive.
The Navy had lost two aviators, LTJG Everett Alvarez from VA 144 and LTJG Richard C. Sather from VA 145, an A-1 squadron. Alvarez earned the dubious distinction of being the first naval aviator captured by the North Vietnamese and spent eight-and-one-half years in captivity.
Richard Sather, in a sense, was less fortunate, becoming the Navy's first pilot killed during the conflict. It was twenty-one years, August 14, 1985, before the Vietnamese "discovered" his remains and returned them to U.S. control.
Finally, on February 12, 1973, Everett Alvarez was released from prisoner of war camps and sent home. Alvarez had been a prisoner of war for eight and one-half years. In all, 591 Americans were released. The remains of Richard Sather were not returned until 1985.
Since the war ended, nearly 10,000 reports relating to Americans missing, prisoner or unaccounted for in Southeast Asia have been received by the U.S. Government. Many authorities who have examined this largely classified information are convinced that hundreds of Americans are still held captive today. These reports are the source of serious distress to many returned American prisoners. They had a code that no one could honorably return unless all of the prisoners returned. Not only that code of honor, but the honor of our country is at stake as long as even one man remains unjustly held. It's time we brought our men home.
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977 Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602 Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and spelling errors).
EVERETT ALVAREZ, JR. Lieutenant Commander - United States Navy Shot Down: August 5, 1964 Released: February 12, 1973
Born: On 12/23137 in Salinas, California. Education: B. S. in Electrical Engineering from Santa Clara university in 1960. Entered: Navy in June 1960--Aviation Officer Candidate Program. He received his Commission in October 1960. Flight Training--Pensacola, Florida; Kingsville, Texas. Designated Naval Aviator in November 1961. First Assignment--Attack Squadron 144 at NAS Lemoore and the USS Constellation.
Lt. Cdr. Alvarez was shot down and captured August 5, 1964 on the first raid in North Vietnam in retaliation for the North Vietnamese torpedo attack on the USS Destroyer Maddox and USS Turner Joy. This was called the Tonkin Gulf Incident of 4 August 1964. Lt. Cdr. Alvarez was the longest held POW in North Vietnam. He was a prisoner for 8 1/2 years. As for the future, Lt. Cdr. Alvarez plans to remain in the Navy.
This is his personal message: "For years and years, during our long incarceration, we dreamed of the day when we would return home to our families and friends. We never gave up hope that this day might come soon, because we had faith--faith in God, in our country, and in ourselves. It was this faith that maintained our hope that someday our dreams would come true. And now they have come true.
Now we have returned to the greatest country in the world. Now we have seen the other side, and we know what it is like. Now we are able to fully appreciate our way of life and what we have. We have so much to be thankful for. No one can be prouder than I am for having had the association of some of the bravest men this country has ever seen--my fellow prisoners who were held in North Vietnam jails."
On one occasion, before a group of well-wishers, he said, "You're beautiful. I love you. But let's never forget the thousands of men who will never return."
The Honorable Everert Alvarez Jr. retired from the United States Navy as a Commander. He and his wife Tammy live in Maryland. He has continued to serve his country in various capacities - he is the former Deputy Director of the Peace Corps and former Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration.
Tue, 5 Sep 200
Floor Information: 57430 Legislative Program: 52020 WHIP NOTICE WEEK OF SEPTEMBER 4, 2000
MONDAY AND TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4 AND 5 NO VOTES - SUMMER DISTRICT WORK PERIOD
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 6 ON WEDNESDAY, THE HOUSE WILL MEET AT 2:00 P.M. FOR LEGISLATIVE BUSINESS. NO RECORDED VOTES ARE EXPECTED BEFORE 6:00 P.M.
Suspensions Subject to UC (7 Bills): [CLIPPED}
(5) H.R. 4484 - To designate the facility of the United States Postal Service located at 500 North Washington Street in Rockville, Maryland, as the `Everett Alvarez, Jr. Post Office Building'.