Alvarez, 23, was killed in Haft Asiab, Afghanistan, on Aug. 23, when his unit was attacked with an improvised explosive device during a combat mission.
A chartered jet bearing Alvarez's remains touched down in Santa Maria at about 11:30 a.m. and was greeted by two Santa Maria airport fire vehicles shooting streams of water.
Alvarez's casket was carried by a military honor guard to a waiting hearse for the trip across town to the Dudley Hoffman Mortuary.
In addition to the crowd at the airport, people lined parts of the route to the mortuary.
A police escort accompanied the hearse to the mortuary, along with motorcyclists from the American Legion and other groups.
Visitation for Alvarez will be held from noon to 2 p.m. Wednesday at the mortuary and from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. at St. Louis de Montfort Church in Santa Maria.
Services are scheduled for 9:30 a.m. Thursday at St. Louis de Montfort, with burial to follow at the Santa Maria Cemetery.
Alvarez was a Santa Maria native who attended local schools and graduated in 2009 from Delta High School.
He subsequently joined the Army, and was on his second tour of duty in Afghanistan at the time of his death.
Alvarez is survived by his son, Isaac Anthony Alvarez, and Isaac's mother, Megan Lagua; his parents, Ernest and Sol Alvarez; brothers Ernest Jr. and Eric; a niece, Trinity, and nephew, Roman Alvarez; his maternal grandmother, Josephina Bernal Flores; his paternal grandparents, Arnulfo and Anna Alvarez; and several aunts, uncles and cousins.