The longest serving POW in Vietnam, Commander Everett Alvarez, Jr., was honored with the Nixon Foundation’s Great American Hero Award by President Nixon’s daughter Tricia Nixon Cox. From left to right:  Christopher Nixon Cox, the President’s grandson; Commander Alvarez; Tricia Nixon Cox; Edward F. Cox, the President’s son-in-law and newly elected Chairman of the Republican Party of New York; and Ronald H. Walker, the new President of the Richard Nixon Foundation.

Commander Everett Alvarez, Jr., among the longest captive prisoners of war in American history was at the Nixon Library on the occasion of the President’s 97th Birthday. For his service, RN’s daughter Tricia Nixon Cox presented him with the Richard Nixon Foundation’s first ever Great American Hero Award.

Commander Alvarez was shot down over the skies of Vietnam in 1964 and was held captive over eight years in the Hanoi Hilton and other Vietnamese prisons.

Daughter Julie Nixon Eisenhower had these words to say about Commander Alvarez’s honor:

My father had a special place in his heart for the POWS —as I know they had for him.  He was aware of them —and their plight and their pain— every day they were held captive.  But he knew that they would understand the necessity to end the war in a way that reflected America’s values and honored America’s obligations.

The American Hero Award has been created to honor men and women whose exceptional character and extraordinary courage make them able to rise above personal concerns and act in the kinds of noble and selfless ways that inspire all the rest of us.

When John Wayne was introduced to Commander Alvarez at the POW dinner at the White House, the tough movie star broke down and said, “I only play a hero — you are a hero.”

David and I wish we could be with you today in Yorba Linda to celebrate Everett Alverez’ inspiring record of faithful service, exceptional bravery, extraordinary courage, and exemplary honor.  He truly is an American Hero.

On Saturday, he also sat down with Nixon White House Fellow and Special Assistant Frank Gannon to discuss his experiences in captivity and his encounters with President Nixon: