Nation’s oldest living Pearl Harbor veteran in San Diego has died


SAN DIEGO (KUSI) – Ray Chavez, also know as the oldest-surviving veteran of the attack on Pearl Harbor, died at the age of 106, according to his family.

Chavez’s family said he passed away Wednesday morning peacefully in his sleep.

Chavez was aboard the USS Condor in the early morning hours of December 7, 1941, but was unhurt in the attack.

Just a few hours before the aerial offensive, Chavez said his crew had seen a submarine in restricted waters. Although this sighting was reported to his command, he said no one seemed to realize at the time, that it was part of a much larger scheme to attack the United States.

Chavez would later be assigned to an attack transport, responsible for taking troops in and out of combat zones in the South Pacific. When he was discharged in 1945, Chavez returned to San Diego, and worked as a landscaper, while raising his family. His daughter Kathleen said her father did not talk about his war experiences for 50 years.

It was not until the 50th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack, that Chavez decided to break his silence. He attended the commemoration in Hawaii that year and has participated in the remembrance ceremonies in Oahu for each of the last five years.

Ray Chavez does not like to talk too much about his feelings, however, he was clear about one thing; he would not hesitate to fight for his country again.

Of survivors like her father, Kathleen Chavez said, “They deserve every ounce of adulation and respect because if it wasn’t for them, we’d be living in a whole, totally different United States and most people don’t even stop to think about that.”

Categories: Local San Diego News