The third Friday in September is National POW/MIA Day. On this day we nationally recognize those who are Prisoners of War or who have been missing in action. This year, we highlight the stories of three U.S. POWs.
On August 5th, 1964 Naval aviator Everett Alvarez was shot down and captured in North Vietnam. He was held as a prisoner of war at the Hoa La prison camp, until 1973 when he was brought back to U.S. soil. Imprisoned for over 8 years, Alvarez was the second-longest held U.S. POW. During this time, he endured routine beatings and torture from his captors. Alvarez was esteemed by his fellow prisoners as the first and only aviator at the prison camp for almost a year. Alvarez’s sincere hope gained him notoriety and was critical to his survival. Despite brutal torture and abuse Alvarez “was one of those optimists who always thought (he) would get out the next day.” After his release, Alvarez continued his career in the Navy, rising to the rank of Commander before retiring in 1980. He went on to serve in multiple government positions, including Deputy Director of the Peace Corps and Deputy Administrator of the Veteran’s Administration. In 2012, he was awarded the Lone Star Sailor Award, given to sea service veterans who have excelled with distinction in their respective civilian careers while exemplifying the U.S. Navy's stated core values of honor, courage and commitment.