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January 2023

Headshot of Everett Alvarez in Navy uniform.

Headshot of Everett Alvarez in Navy uniform.

Everett Alvarez, Jr. ’60 Nominated for Congressional Gold Medal

Dedicated alumnus was the nation's second-longest-held POW, known for keeping up the spirits and resolve of his fellow Vietnam POWs.

SANTA CLARA, Calif., Jan. 24, 2023—Santa Clara University alumnus, distinguished Navy veteran, author, and public-service executive Everett Alvarez, Jr. ’60, Hon. ’82, has been nominated by Rep. Jimmy Panetta J.D. ’96 to receive one of the highest civilian awards in the nation— the Congressional Gold Medal. 

The medal is considered one of the highest expressions of national appreciation for the contributions of an individual or institution to the nation’s history and culture. There have been only 173 recipients since its creation in 1776—including presidents, military leaders, athletes, and industry pioneers.

Alvarez served as a naval officer and aviator in Vietnam after graduating with an electrical engineering degree from Santa Clara in 1960. After his A-4 Skyhawk was shot down in 1964, he became the second longest-held U.S. prisoner of war in any conflict. He was known for keeping up the spirits and resolve of his fellow detainees, who included, for a time, late U.S. Senator John McCain. 

Following his release in 1973, Alvarez rejoined his naval commission until his retirement as Naval Commander in 1980.

He went on to become a deputy director of the Peace Corps; a deputy administrator in the Veterans Administration; a board chair of the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences; and chair of VA CARES Commission. Since 2004, he has run an IT and management consulting company in Northern Virginia. He and his wife Tammy live in Rockville, Md. 

His Santa Clara Class of 1960 classmates included former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta; former Oakland A’s owner Steve Schott; and the late former SCU President Paul Locatelli, S.J. 

Headshot of Evererett Alvarez, Jr.


He is a lifetime member of Santa Clara University’s Board of Fellows, and in 2015 a scholarship was created in his name by anonymous donors to benefit Santa Clara students with financial need—with a preference for veterans. Alvarez regularly contributes to the fund, and has returned for numerous reunions and to speak to veteran alumni and SCU ROTC and military science students. He received an honorary doctorate in public service from Santa Clara in 1982. 

Alvarez said he is “speechless” over the Congressional Gold Medal nomination, insisting that many people contributed to the accomplishments it honors, including his fellow POWs, his wife, as well as the many Broncos who nurtured him. 

“My Jesuit educators at Santa Clara really helped form my spiritual values,” he said. “After I came back from Vietnam, Fr. Walter Schmidt, who ran the Santa Clara Youth Village near campus, was a close mentor and dear friend. Other Santa Clara alumni also took me under their wings and helped me. I owe a lot to a lot of people.” 

Others are less modest on his behalf, as evidenced by the litany of honors he’s received over his career. He has been awarded two Purple Hearts, a Silver Star, two Legion of Merit medals, two Bronze Stars and the Navy’s Distinguished Flying Cross. A high school in his native Salinas is named after him, as is a city park in Santa Clara; base housing at a California naval base; a Maryland post office; and an aircraft hangar at a Texas training base.

 In his press release announcing the legislation introduced to award the Gold Medal to Alvarez, Rep. Panetta recounted the unique combination of bravery, values, and honor in Alvarez. “In the face of severe mistreatment during his captivity in the Vietnam War, including torture and starvation, Commander Everett Alvarez Jr. not only served and sacrificed, he also set an example for fellow POWs and inspired them to return home with honor,” said Panetta in the release. “I am proud to introduce this legislation that would recognize, recount, and remember the actions of Commander Alvarez and his effect on his military brethren as well as our nation.”

Alvarez is co-author of two autobiographical books, “Chained Eagle,” and “Code of Conduct.” After Vietnam, he went on to earn a master’s degree in operations research and systems analysis from the Naval Post Graduate School and a J.D. from George Washington School of Law. 

The legislation must be passed by the House and the Senate and signed into law by the President for the Gold Medal to be awarded.

About Santa Clara University
Founded in 1851, Santa Clara University sits in the heart of Silicon Valley—the world’s most innovative and entrepreneurial region. The University’s stunningly landscaped 106-acre campus is home to the historic Mission Santa Clara de Asís. Ranked among the top 15 percent of national universities by U.S. News & World Report, SCU has among the best four-year graduation rates in the nation and is rated by PayScale in the top 1 percent of universities with the highest-paid graduates. SCU has produced elite levels of Fulbright Scholars as well as four Rhodes Scholars. With undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, and graduate programs in six disciplines, the curriculum blends high-tech innovation with social consciousness grounded in the tradition of Jesuit, Catholic education. For more information see 

Media Contacts
Deborah Lohse | Santa Clara University | | 408-554-5121
Christian Unkenholz | Rep. Panetta | | 202-451-1249

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Everett Alvarez, Jr. ’60 in a circa-1980 photo. Naval History & Heritage Command