On Aug. 5, 1964, a 26-year-old Hispanic fight pilot of the U.S. Navy dropped amongst a small fleet of Vietnamese fishing boats. He had simply ejected from his Douglas A-4 Skyhawk and had actually fallen into an unsure future. “I’d misplaced a wing, there was a whole lot of smoke, the airplane was on hearth, and each emergency indicator went off all of sudden,” Everett Alvarez Jr. later recalled. “I knew if I caught with it I used to be positively not going to make it.”
He was promptly dragged off to jail, and would spent a complete of three,113 days in grueling captivity because the second-longest-held POW of North Vietnam earlier than lastly being introduced residence on Feb. 12, 1973 in Operation Homecoming.
Almost 50 years later in December 2022, U.S Rep. Jimmy Panetta (D.-Calif.) has launched laws looking for to honor Alvarez with the Congressional Gold Medal.
“Within the face of extreme mistreatment throughout his captivity within the Vietnam Warfare, together with torture and hunger, Commander Everett Alvarez, Jr. not solely served and sacrificed, he additionally set an instance for fellow POWs and impressed them to return residence with honor,” Panetta mentioned in a press release.
Alvarez spent 12 months after 12 months with nearly no hope of launch. He suffered from the consequences of hunger and malnutrition along with abuse and makes an attempt at political coercion from his captors. “Any time they discovered one thing we’d made to entertain ourselves, they might punish us,” he later mentioned.
But regardless of the darkness throughout him, Alvarez discovered it inside himself to set an instance for different POWs and encourage them to not give in to the coercion of the enemy. He refused to surrender hope.
Alvarez returned residence bodily weakened after almost a decade of being held captive, and his marriage didn’t outlast his imprisonment. Nevertheless, he constructed a brand new life for himself, remarried and began a household, and has continued to be an inspiration to others.
“I acknowledged the resiliency of the human spirit and that bodily we’d been in a scenario that only a few folks encounter,” he later mentioned. “Thank God that I had my colleges. I’ve obtained my issues bodily, however that’s minor in comparison with others who misplaced loads. So I think about myself very lucky.”
In response to his nomination for the Congressional Gold Medal, Alvarez says he’s “humbled past perception.” “There isn’t a method I’m able to categorical my profound appreciation for this recognition,” he mentioned, including that he accepts the glory on behalf of others in his life.
The laws will now require 290 signatures from members of Congress to make the award a actuality for Alvarez. “I believe folks must study extra about his perspective whereas he was a prisoner of battle and that he inspired not simply himself however his fellow POWS, to return residence with honor,” Panetta told KSBW news, including that “based mostly on who Alvarez is, what he’s completed and what he’s sacrificed, what he’s been via, it must be somewhat bit simpler to get 290 for a Congressional Medal to acknowledge him than it could be for different payments.”