Former POW Makes Valley Visit

September 21, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The longest held P.O.W. in American history was in Fresno today to speak on behalf of republican presidential candidate John McCain. Everett Alvarez Jr. and McCain were held at the same P.O.W. camp during the Vietnam War. Alvarez said it was there he first witnessed McCain's selflessness.

John McCain spent more than five years at a P.O.W. camp known as the 'Hanoi Hilton." Everett Alvarez, Jr. was there, too, the first American shot down in Vietnam. Alvarez says the P.O.W.'s relied on each other to make it through. "We hung together we kept each other going, we prayed a lot and it was one day at a time. And it worked. We survived one day at a time, everybody pulling and helping each other? That's what it was all about," said Alvarez.

Several veterans were in the audience Sunday as Alvarez told the crowd he knew John McCain has what it takes to lead the country. "You've heard stories how he refused early release. Yeah, he did. He could have made it a lot easier by accepted it, but we all had a commitment to each other. He was really tested in terms of his courage, his loyalty, his commitment to his country and the rest of us," said Alvarez.

Alvarez said McCain has continued to put others before himself throughout his political career. The decorated war hero is now spending whatever time he can to help McCain get elected president.

Though Sunday's event was a McCain campaign rally, some attended specifically to pay homage to Alvarez. "Everybody who has ever been in the service knows who he is and who he was. He's said a lot of nice positive things about Mr. McCain a lot of things people didn't probably know," said veteran Alfredo Flores, Jr.

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