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November 10, 2014

CAT’s Special Operations Leader John Alvarez Inducted into Air Commando Hall of Fame

John Alvarez

Air Commando Association honors Alvarez’s distinguished military service and sacrifice for his country

John Alvarez, Special Operations and Missions, Assessment and Development Director for Commuter Air Technology (CAT), was inducted into the Air Commando Hall of Fame at the organization’s annual banquet Oct. 18 at Ft. Walton Beach, Fla.

A retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, Alvarez was one of five retired Special Operation Forces veterans inducted this year into the Air Commando Hall of Fame.  Founded in 1969, the Air Commando Association is an organization for retired and active duty Special Operations Forces personnel.  Annually the organization honors and recognizes American heroes for their extraordinary achievements in special operations.  

“We are incredibly grateful to have an honored military hero like John Alvarez on the CAT team. As one might expect, he is both talented and driven to excel, in everything he does, ” said Darryl Wilkerson, President of AGC’s Integrated Defense Group, which includes Oklahoma City-based CAT.  “The ACA Hall of Fame recognition is well deserved. John has given a lifetime of sacrificial and faithful service to his country. The quality of his service and the many significant achievements he has amassed over the course of an exemplary career are a credit to himself and reflect perfectly the highest standards of the Special Operations Warrior and the great traditions of the Air Commando.” 

Alvarez leads CAT operations in Tampa, Fla., where its office is located near MacDill Air Force Base headquarters of the U.S. military’s Special Operations Command.

Alvarez began his military career in 1987 with the U.S. Navy, and was a Navy helicopter pilot assigned to the 20th and 6th Special Operations Squadrons as part of a military exchange program to the Air Force Special Operations Command.  He transitioned to the U.S. Air Force in 1998, where he held many highly regarded leadership positions.

In 1996, during a counter drug mission, he was onboard an Ecuadorian Army helicopter that crashed into a river in an Ecuadorian jungle near the Colombian border.   Although the Army pilot was killed on impact, Alvarez and a Navy SEAL survived, though both sustained serious injuries. 

Alvarez lost his leg in the operation, but made history as the United States’ first military pilot to return to full combat flying status following such an injury. 

Since then, he has participated and commanded combat and Special Operations Force missions worldwide, including Operation ENDURING FREEDOM and Operation IRAQI FREEDOM. During Operation IRAQI FREEDOM Alvarez commanded the first combat direct-assistance aviation advisory mission since Vietnam rebuilding the new Iraqi Air Force.

His final assignment was as the Defense and Air Attache to Bolivia before he retired as a colonel in September 2010.  He has served as a Senior Fellow with the Joint Special Operations University since 2010.

Alvarez and his wife, Shelley, are peer mentors with the Wounded Warrior Project and the Care Coalition as advocates for our Special Operations Forces (SOF) severely wounded and their families.