Alfred A. "Smilin' Al" Alvarez



LTC Alfred A. “Smilin’ Al” Alvarez (Retired) passed away at home on Monday, 31 July 2017 at the age of 93 surrounded by his loving family.

Predeceased in death by parents Fred and Clara Alvarez and older brother Frederick, he was born 25 April 1924 in Chelsea, Mass. Losing his father at the age of six, his widowed mother raised three children during the Depression.

Excelling at school, he skipped the 6th grade and was later editor of the H.S. newspaper. Attending Northeastern University, he joined the Army shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor and after stateside training joined the 1st Infantry Division in England. On D-Day June 6, 1944, he went ashore on Omaha Beach, Normandy and fought his way inshore. Following the Normandy landing he participated in numerous battles including “Hurtgen Forest” and “the Battle of the Bulge.” He ended the war in Europe in Czechoslovakia in 1945. Following his commission from OCS in 1949 he served two combat tours in the Korean War. In 1965, he served 18 months in the Dominican Republic conflict, then in 1967 he was in Bolivia confronting “Che Guevara” terrorists. From 1968-1969 as a LTC in the 7th Special Forces “Green Berets” he served a combat tour in Vietnam where shortly after arriving in-country, the helicopter he was riding in was hit by enemy fire and forced to make an emergency landing. He returned stateside and served in the XVIII ABN Corps until retiring in 1974, after 32 years in the Army. Following his retirement from the army he served as North Carolina State Regional Director of Human Services and later as Cumberland County Master Planner where he directed personnel assets for the local community. Taking a plunge into retail merchandising he was general manager of “The Capitol” department store. In addition to his normal work routine he found time to help with education efforts at FTCC where he taught soldiers management subjects. On the weekends, he served as a radio talk show host and later was successful writing and publishing military short stories. Inducted into the US Army OCS Hall of Fame at Fort Benning, Georgia in 2003 as well as selected as Military Analyst for National Geographic Society tours to France and England for D-Day 60th remembrance in 2004. Honored at the National WWII Museum in New Orleans and named “Chevalier of the French Legion of D’Honneur” by the French government in 2008. He received the “Order of the Long Leaf Pine” from NC Governor Holshouser. A charter member of the Airborne & Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville he served as docent and participated in various speaking assignments to local and regional audiences.

His awards include: Combat Infantry Badge, Legion of Merit, (2) Bronze Stars for valor with Oak Leaf Clusters, Master Parachutist, United Nations Service Medal, Korean Service Medal, Presidential Service Medal, WWII Victory Medal, Gliderist Badge, Army Occupational Medal (Germany – Japan), Belgian and French Fouragere, Vietnam Service and Campaign Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation, Pacificador – Brazil Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, National Defense Service Medal (1st OLC) and 14 Battle Stars.

He is survived by his sister Mary (97), his wife Florence (married 68 yrs), son Commander (USN, Ret.) Michael and wife Catherine, daughter Colleen Wellons and husband William, son Kevin and wife Cynthia and son Sean and wife Amy. In addition, there are 10 grandchildren and two great-grandchildren. A true warrior who put country first in time of war, in peacetime he was happiest surrounded by family and friends and will forever be fondly remembered for his sense of humor and stories.

“Do not fear death, but rather the unlived life, you don’t have to live forever, you just have to live … And he did.”

A memorial service will be held on Saturday, 5 August 2017 at 11 A.M. The family will receive friends one-hour prior at Jernigan-Warren Funeral Home located at 545 Ramsey St., Fayetteville, NC. Burial with full military honors will be held at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date. In lieu of flowers the family has requested that donations be made to the “Airborne and Special OPS Museum Foundation” or to the” Veterans of Foreign Wars.”

“Good Night Sweetheart”.