Padilla, Lummis Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Honor Vietnam War Prisoner of War Everett Alvarez, Jr. with the Congressional Gold Medal

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, U.S. Senators Alex Padilla (D-Calif.) and Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.) introduced bipartisan legislation to award Navy Captain Everett Alvarez, Jr. with the Congressional Gold Medal in honor of his service in the Vietnam War. Representative Panetta (D-Calif.) and Pat Fallon (R-Texas) have introduced companion legislation in the House. Commander Alvarez was born and raised in Salinas and is a graduate of the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California.

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, becoming the second-longest held Prisoner of War in U.S. history. While being held in Vietnam, Alvarez crossed paths with the late Senator John McCain, who was also being held as a POW at the Hỏa Lò prison (Hanoi Hilton).

Following his release back to the United States, Commander Alvarez continued his career in the U.S. Navy and completed a 20-year career in June 1980. Commander Alvarez 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. He also served as Deputy Director of the Peace Corps, Deputy Administrator of the Veterans Administration (now known as the Department of Veterans Affairs), and Vice President for government services with the Hospital Corporation of America.

“Commander Alvarez is an American hero and remains a source of hope and encouragement for the other Prisoners of War during his time in Vietnam,” Senator Padilla said. “Commander Alvarez’s unwavering courage and bravery in the face of cruel torture and isolation deserves the highest recognition in Congress.”

“Commander Everett Alvarez Jr. endured unspeakable horrors while fighting in the Vietnam War, and no amount of thanks will ever be enough. He is a true American patriot, dedicating his life to his country. I am proud to join Senator Padilla in honoring Commander Alvarez. He deserves a Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of our grateful nation,” said Senator Lummis.

“In the face of severe mistreatment during his captivity in the Vietnam War, including torture and starvation, Commander Everett Alvarez, Jr. served, sacrificed, and set an example for fellow POWs, inspiring them to return home with honor,” said Rep. Panetta. “I am proud to reintroduce this legislation with bipartisan support 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.”

“Commander Everett Alvarez, Jr. is a true testament to the resiliency of the American spirit,” said Rep. Fallon. “He dedicated his life to selfless service while overcoming insurmountable odds. I am honored to be part of this effort and look forward to passing this legislation to award him the Congressional Gold Medal.”

Senator Padilla is committed to supporting all those who have fought for our nation’s freedom and works to ensure that service members, veterans, and their families receive the support they have earned and deserve.

Full text of the bill can be found here.


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