WWII vet receives special honor at Fayetteville museum
Posted February 19
Fayetteville, N.C. — A World War II veteran who has spent the last decade-plus welcoming visitors to Fayetteville's Airborne and Special Operations Museum got a special honor Friday that will forever highlight his service to his country.
Retired Lt. Col. Al Alvarez's family purchased a special brick paver that highlights his long military career.
The paver, which was unveiled Friday, is near the entrance of the museum, where Alvarez has shared stories with countless visitors – many of them area school children – since the museum opened more than 15 years ago.
Alvarez was among the thousands who stormed Omaha Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
"The thing that I always remember about D-Day is that I was frightened to death," he said. "I was lying in the water, and I was there, and I was about 2 inches above the ground. And everybody was getting hit."
Alvarez suffered a graze wound but survived D-Day and fought his way through Europe with the 1st Infantry Division. He also served in Korea, Vietnam and the Dominican Republic.
Alvarez, now 92, said Friday that he remembers fighting Germans in World War II "like it was yesterday."
I was 18 years old, and I was a tiger, and I think I cried," he reminisced. "I don't want everybody to know it, but they scared the living bejeezus out of us."
Alvarez retired from the 82nd Airborne Division in 1974 and has been recounting his stories ever since. He said Fayetteville plays a key role in making sure people remember the sacrifices of the military.
"The city is a military town that knows quite a bit about the military and, specifically, falling out of airplanes," he said. "And we kept it up."
Alvarez has been volunteering for years at the museum and says he'll keep it up as long as he's able.