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Commander Everett Alvarez, Jr., USN (Ret.)

Everett Alvarez, Jr., a distinguished Naval officer and government executive, is best known to the public as the first American aviator shot down over North Vietnam. He was taken prisoner of war on Aug. 5, 1964, and held in North Vietnam for eight years and six months, until the general release of prisoners on Feb. 12, 1973. 

Born in Salinas, Calif. on Dec. 23, 1937, Alvarez earned a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1960 from the University of Santa Clara, the same year he joined the Navy. He also holds a master’s degree in Operations Research and Systems Analysis from the United States Naval Post Graduate School, a Juris Doctorate from the George Washington University School of Law, and is a member of the District of Columbia bar. The University of Santa Clara has given him the Alumnus of Distinction Award, as well as an honorary doctorate in public service.  In May of 2001, he was awarded another honorary doctorate degree  from the University of North Texas health Sciences Center.

Alvarez served in program management at the Naval Air Systems Command in Washington, D.C., until his retirement from the Navy in 1980. In April 1981, President Reagan nominated Alvarez as Deputy Director of the Peace Corps; he was confirmed by the Senate in August 1981. 

President Reagan nominated him to be Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration in July 1982; he was confirmed by the Senate and assumed his post in August 1982. 

He left the position of Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration in May 1986. He was with Hospital Corporation of America where he held the position of Vice President for Government Services until the fall of 1987 when he formed his own consulting company, Conwal Incorporated, of McLean, Virginia. In 2004, Alvarez formed and currently runs Alvarez LLC, also a consulting company, in Tysons Corner, Virginia. 

A city park and two housing projects in California and Texas have been named in honor of him. In January 1987, his hometown of Salinas named a new high school (built in 1994) in his honor. In March 1998, he was awarded the Daughters of the American Revolution’s Medal of Honor. The United States Congress named a Rockville, Md. post office in his honor in September 2000. 

In 2008, Alvarez was selected and honored by the “Council for Excellence in Government” as one of the 25 greatest public servants, over the past 25 years, for his remarkable service to our nation.  In November 2008, the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences named the Board of Regents meeting center in honor of his service to the University and to military medicine. 

In January, 2010, Alvarez was awarded the Richard Nixon Library Foundation’s first “American Hero” award for a lifetime of service to our nation.  And in September, 2012, Alvarez was awarded the prestigious Lone Sailor Award, presented by the Navy Memorial Foundation in Washington D.C.

Alvarez holds numerous military decorations, including the Silver Star, two Legions of Merit (with combat “V”), two Bronze Stars (with Combat “V”), Distinguished Flying Cross, and two Purple Heart medals. 

Appointed by Secretary Anthony J. Principi, Alvarez chaired the CARES Commission, an independent panel of 16-members chartered by the Secretary to recommend critical change within the VA.  He is past Chairman of the Board of Regents, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USUHS), served as a member of the Board of Directors of the National Graduate University, is a member of the Board of Fellows of Santa Clara University, and has served on the White House Fellows Selection Committee, and on the Board of Directors of the Armed Services YMCA of the USA. 

Alvarez has authored two books: Chained Eagle, a historical account of his experiences during his captivity in Vietnam, and Code of Conduct, the story of the rebuilding of his life. 

Alvarez is married to the former Thomasine Ilyas of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Alvarez and his wife, reside in Potomac, Md.