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
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
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.
The Honorable Everert Alvarez Jr. retired from the United States Navy as a
Commander. He and his wife Tammy live in Maryland. He 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 2000
Floor Information: 57430
Legislative Program: 52020
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'.
Ev Alvarez continues to improve from his head injury and surgery. No one could
be getting better home care than Ev. Tammy is devoted to this great man.
Ev said the technology is astounding as he can see the changes/improvements move back to
normal so clearly associated with his recovery and healing through the monitoring of the scans.
As I mentioned a week ago, this is a long process, and he anticipates at least 6 months,
but all is on track, and he is optimistic. He is not permitted to fly for at least 6 months.
Jun 12, 2016 at 4:10 AM:
I had a pleasant telephone conversation recently with Ev Alvarez. You
will recall that Ev had a serious brain operation due to a fall several
months ago.. I'm happy to report that he is on the road to recovery,
although that may take another six months or so. The medication he takes
is carefully controlled, but it causes him a lot of drowsiness. His
reasoning and memory are as sharp as ever . . . as is his sense of humor.
Ev is my hero hot just for his conduct as a POW, but also for his
illustrious career afterward.
I just thought you'd like to know.
Alvarez's career brought him many honors, including the Silver Star Medal, two Legion of Merit awards, two Bronze Stars, the Distinguished Flying ...
December 15, 2022
The Press Release
On August 5,
1964, while flying Operation Pierce Arrow, Commander Alvarez’s A-4
Skyhawk was shot down, and he became the first aviator captured in
Vietnam. He spent eight years and six months in captivity or 3,113
days. Despite facing torture, isolation and starvation, Commander
Alvarez encouraged and inspired fellow POWs to “Return with Honor,” by
not cooperating with the enemy, and remain loyal to the United
States. Following his release and hospitalization, Commander Alvarez
resumed his Naval service, graduating from NPS.
“In the face of
severe mistreatment during his captivity in the Vietnam War, including
torture and starvation, Commander Everett Alvarez, Jr. not only served
and sacrificed, he also set an example for fellow POWs and inspired them
to return home with honor,” said Rep. Panetta. “I am proud to introduce
this legislation that would recognize, recount, and remember the actions
of Commander Alvarez and his effect on his military brethren as well as
our nation. It is appropriate that Congress acknowledges and appreciates
the bravery, sacrifices, and immense contributions of Commander Everett
Alvarez, Jr. to our country with the Congressional Gold Medal.”
“I am humbled
beyond belief by the introduction of this legislation to award me the
Congressional Gold Medal,” said Everett Alvarez. “There is no way I am
able to express my profound appreciation for this recognition. However,
I have to acknowledge, I accept this honor on behalf of those who have
played an important role in my life, primarily my fellow former Vietnam
POWs, my esteemed colleagues in the military, the government and
business, and my family, particularly my wife, Tammy, who has encouraged
me and has been my unconditional support throughout these years.”
On June 30, 1980,
Commander Alvarez retired from the Navy, completing a 20-year Naval
career. Commander Alvarez went on to serve as Deputy Director of the
Peace Corps, Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration, and on
the Board of regents of the Uniformed Services University of the Health
has earned the Silver Star Medal, two Legions of Merit, the
Distinguished Flying Cross, two Bronze Star Medals, two Purple Hearts,
and the Prisoner of War Medal.
The Congressional Gold Medal is bestowed by the United States Congress to honor individuals or groups for major achievements that have an impact on American history and culture. Congress has issued gold medals to honor recipients from the military since the American Revolution. The legislation must be passed by the House and the Senate and signed into law by the President for the Gold Medal to be awarded.
Note: it may take up to a year before Ev receives the award because both the House and Senate must pass the law then to be signed by the President.
The passage of almost 60 years has done nothing to dim former Navy fighter pilot Everett Alvarez Jr.’s memories of the night that he was shot down in the South China Sea and began what would be the second-longest period of captivity for an American service member in the Vietnam War....