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Chained Eagle

The Heroic Story of the First American Shot Down over North Vietnam

Pitch, Anthony S.

Publication Year: 2005

On August 5, 1964, while Lt. (jg) Everett Alvarez was flying a retaliatory air strike against naval targets in North Vietnam, antiaircraft fire crippled his A-4 fighter-bomber, forcing him to eject over water at low altitude. Alvarez relates the engrossing tale of his capture by fishermen, brutal treatment by the North Vietnamese, physical and mental endurance, and triumphant repatriation nearly nine years later in 1973.

Alvarez spent more time as a prisoner of war in Vietnam than any other flier. As Senator John McCain, a fellow POW, has written, “During his captivity, Ev exhibited a courage, compassion, and indomitable will that was an inspiration to us all.” Indeed, the book, which was written with Anthony S. Pitch, is remarkable for its lack of rancor. Alvarez directs his strongest words against the small number of POWs who broke ranks and collaborated with the enemy. As one reviewer wrote, Alvarez “relates the misery of his condition with a detachment that robs it of its shock value.” Chained Eagle also tells the story of the Alvarez family’s ordeal during his years of imprisonment: His sister became an anitwar activist, his wife divorced him, and relatives died. Yet throughout his time as a prisoner of war, Alvarez remained duty-bound and held steadfast to his religious faith and the values enshrined in the U.S. Constitution.

Published by: University of Nebraska Press

Series Info, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Acknowledgments

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pp. ix-x

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pp. 1-3

When my co-author asked me in the Summer of 1986 whether I wanted to collaborate on this book I accepted immediately. The time was right. Thirteen years had passed since my liberation and return to the USA. Saigon had fallen to the enemy eleven years back. ...

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1 Conflict

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pp. 4-13

The junior officers' wardroom began filling up shortly before the screening of the evening movie aboard our aircraft carrier, U.S.S. Constellation. Pilots from our attack squadron 144, nicknamed the Roadrunners, ambled down to the forward section where our "turf" was staked out with bright orange-colored baseball caps plopped on the chairs. ...

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2 Reprisal

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pp. 14-24

At 8:14 A.M. On Tuesday, August 4, a telephone rang at the Defense Intelligence Agency in the Pentagon. The caller spoke from the top secret National Security Agency which intercepted, translated and distributed communications intelligence from around the world. ...

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3 Captivity

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pp. 25-41

I pulled away my face mask, ripped off my helmet and pushed down on the two levers to release the parachute, which sank quickly. Instantly I was covered in the oozing black dye of shark repellant, whose container accidentally broke loose in my survival vest. ...

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4 Missing in Action

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pp. 42-59

Most east coast television viewers had gone to bed by the time Lyndon Johnson announced the air raids. But he held a large captive audience in California and other states where the night was still young. ...

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5 Isolation and Starvation

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pp. 60-90

"We will bring the doctor again/' He scanned the room. "At daytime we will keep your door open. But you must stay in this room and use that over there," he said, pointing to a toilet bucket in the corner. "We will lock the door at night. If you want to use the latrine outside, the guard will take you, but only in the early morning or in the evening." ...

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6 Interrogation

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pp. 91-107

Stoneface gave a hint that something unusual was about to happen when he came in about an hour after sunrise on September 21st and made the gestures for me to shave and look smart. ...

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7 In a Concrete Straightjacket

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pp. 108-118

In the first week of January, Stoneface, with accustomed glumness, walked in with three letters from Tangee and one from Mom. He also had a large cardboard carton which he set down on the table. I thought it was from home until I saw the Geneva stickers and labels printed in French. ...

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8 Americans!

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pp. 119-130

I had been in the Hanoi Hilton exactly a year when the banging suddenly stopped. It was such a relief I started exercising again, running in place and doing a few push-ups in the two-foot width between the beds. My weight was down to about 110 Ibs., my hair stood out dry and matted, and my moustache was so long I used to twirl it. ...

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9 A Cell Mate

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pp. 131-143

In November, the guards swooped through all the cells, confiscating almost everything other than blankets, clothes and toothbrushes. They seized my glass jars, notebook with Vietnamese vocabulary, bits of wire and pieces of glass. They even took the sawhorses on which I rested my bed board. ...

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10 Hanoi Parade

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pp. 144-151

The radio speakers in our cells squawked noisily in the final days of June, 1966. Hanoi Hannah was more shrill than usual in condemning the latest U.S. air raids over North Vietnam. It stiffened our morale, knowing that our guys were really putting the pressure on. ...

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11 Anguish on the Home Front

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pp. 152-157

Tipped off in advance by the networks, the family bunched expectantly around the TV in Chole and Lalo's home on Bohannon Drive, Santa Clara, to watch the film of the Hanoi parade. They were unprepared for the fury of the crowds and the physical threat to the Americans. ...

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12 Torture

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pp. 158-180

There was no let-up in the brutality of the guards after the Hanoi parade. The excesses of that public frenzy seemed to have whet their appetites and now they came at us more often. They demanded we bow whenever in their presence, just as they had done back at the Zoo. ...

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13 Fidel

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pp. 181-191

Despite our best efforts to keep informed, not one of us picked up any hint of why they worked us so hard outdoors in mid-August, 1967. For two weeks we collected litter and removed trash, trimmed bushes, cut the grass, tidied up flower beds and swept the grounds. ...

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14 Easing Up

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pp. 192-201

An inquisitor nicknamed gold tooth stood behind the table in the quiz room, a stern look on his face. It was January 17, 1969, and I expected the familiar harangue about keeping a good attitude and being thankful for lenient treatment. ...

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15 Betrayed

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pp. 202-217

The waiting and worrying took a heavy toll on Chole. Her blood pressure rose and her body tensed, leaving her edgy and brittle. She felt helplessly locked in a trap, exposed and vulnerable to unrelieved stress. The fruits of the earth no longer pleased her. ...

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16 Desolation

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pp. 218-244

When the Vietnamese summoned a bunch of POWs that winter of early 1970, we went willingly, thinking we were going to a quiz session. Only when we were in the jeep and on our way to downtown Hanoi, did we realize it was probably a propaganda stunt. ...

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17 Countdown

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pp. 245-259

The frantic wail of air raid sirens and the volleys of distant flak tipped us off to a resumption of the bombing in mid-April. Overjoyed, we cheered like football fans when a new outfit arrived at the Zoo to take up anti-aircraft positions. I was elated and joined in the enthusiastic cries. "This is it, baby! Nixon's gonna get 'em this time! ...

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18 Homecoming

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pp. 260-271

I was surprised by the mass outpouring of genuine affection for us. Thousands of men, women and children, in military and civilian garb, thronged the airport and lined the route to the hospital. We had heard so much about antiwar protesters and those who despised any link with the war that we did not expect the rousing welcome given us. ...

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19 Reunion

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pp. 272-287

Everett did not mind the thought of staying at Oak Knoll Naval Hospital in Oakland for weeks, if not months, since he would be free to come and go as he pleased. It would be his living quarters while he underwent extensive medical tests. The doctors wanted to check for any damage done by the bad diet and the beatings. ...

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20 Wedding Bells

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pp. 288-304

In the glum and melancholy aftermath of the war, with the rhetoric over but divisions still raw, Americans rallied as one in welcoming home the POWs. The joy was real, and the exultation deep. Desperate for tranquility after a decade of turmoil, people across the land rejoiced in the return of their living symbols of hope, faith and courage. ...

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pp. 305-308

It seemed logical to stay on in the navy and complete the seven remaining years of a twenty-year commitment. Together with many other former POWs, I went to Kingsville, Texas, for fifty hours of refresher flight training in the TA4 trainer, the two-seater version of my former A4 Skyhawk. ...

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About the Authors

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Everett Alvarez, Jr., is a native of Salinas, California. He retired from the Navy in 1980 in the rank of commander. His numerous awards include the Silver Star, two Legions of Merit (with combat "V"), two Bronze Stars (with combat "V"), the Distinguished Flying Cross, and two Purple Hearts. ...

E-ISBN-13: 9781597973328
E-ISBN-10: 1597973327
Print-ISBN-13: 9781574885583
Print-ISBN-10: 1574885588

Page Count: 320
Publication Year: 2005

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Alvarez, Everett, 1937-.
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Prisoners and prisons, North Vietnamese.
  • Vietnam War, 1961-1975 -- Personal narratives, American.
  • Prisoners of war -- United States -- Biography.
  • Prisoners of war -- Vietnam -- Biography.
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