Navy Lt. Everett Alvarez was the first pilot captured over the North – August 1964 – six months before POW number 2 in January 1965. The war ended and we were released in the winter of 1973, so Everett was the longest held POW from the North at 8 years and 6 months. You’ll read his amazing love story in this book.

From 1965 until the spring of 1968, there was a steady increase in combat missions over the North (Operation Rolling Thunder), accompanied by an increasing number of POWs in the Hanoi system. The bombing of the North was paused and then stopped in 1968. By that time there were just over 350 POWs in the Hanoi system. (Over the 8.5 years of the war, there were three main camps in Hanoi and several that opened and closed more out in the countryside, but within a 15-mile radius.)

When the bombing stopped in 1968, there were no more “new guys” until the bombing resumed in Dec 1971. So, most of the POWs who came home were there more than five years and many were there 6 or 7 years. When the bombing resumed in 1972 with Linebacker 1 in the spring/summer of 1972 new POWs started to filter into the camps. Then when the last surge of bombing (Linebacker II) came in December the number of POWs captured surged because the big B-52 bombers with large crews were overhead.

Nixon’s courageous final push ended the war and the peace agreement was signed a few weeks later in January 1973.  Of course those who were there two years or less—many for only a few months or weeks, were heroic and accepted into our fraternity, but as you can imagine they still tend to think of themselves as the “new guys” and we long-termers were the “old guys.” All the stories in the book are from guys who were there more than five years, but we know those “new guys” had some great romance stories as well and someday, maybe we can get those packaged up too.

[1] These narrow straights are strategically located, forming the narrow shipping lane that connect the Indian Ocean with the South China Sea, and then the Pacific. In places the Straits are less than 2 miles wide, yet they are the passageway for 30% of the worlds shipping and 90% of all Middle East and African crude oil going to Asia.

[1] Women became military pilots in the late 70s, but it was not until 1993 that they were allowed to fly front line combat aircraft in combat. Women have proven to be great pilots and great leaders of air combat units. Thankfully, none have been captured and incarcerated for a long period of time in a traditional POW camp.