Hispanic Heritage Month:
Name: Lt. Everett Alvarez
Occupation: Vietnam Veteran
Birth: Dec. 23, 1937
Birthplace: Salinas, California
On Aug. 5, 1964, Lt. Everett Alvarez was part of the first U.S. bombing mission over North Vietnam. The bombing was ordered in retaliation for a reported attack on two American destroyers in the Gulf of Tonkin.
Alvarez was the first American combat pilot to be shot down over Vietnam and endured as a prisoner of war for 8 1⁄2 years. He was among the first group of American POW to be granted freedom after the Paris truce agreement was signed in 1973 and was released on Feb. 12, 1973.
For a detailed account of his capture, click here.
Upon his return to the U.S., Alvarez avoided talking about being a POW, wanting to get on with his life. But almost 25 years later he broke his silence and co-wrote the book Chained Eagle.
For years I couldnt let myself become attached to people and found myself unable to cry, he told People Magazine. The book helped break the shell.
He was held in solitary confinement for 15 months, but something that helped him endure the ordeal was keeping the past alive in his mind and recreating scenes from his life. One of his earliest memories was of his Mexican-American father, Everett Sr., a welder in Salinas, Calif., telling him, Look, son, men dont cry. Keep your chin up.
He also recalled his mother, Chole, sending him to work in a vegetable field the summer after his finished sixth grade. Don't pay him, she told his uncle, the farm foreman. Just teach him to work, she said according to People Magazine.
In June 2013, Alvarez was among the nearly 200 Vietnam POW and their families who gathered at the Richard Nixon Presidential Library, one of the largest reunions since the Vietnam War.
Together we stepped into the dungeons and we faced the dragon, and we come out of it, Alvarez said in an interview with CBS News.