The oldest living U.S. veteran of the Pearl Harbor attack that immersed the United States into World War Two, died in California on Wednesday, domestic media reported.
The Veteran, Ray Chavez, 106, died while asleep early on Wednesday in a hospice in Poway, a community north of San Diego, his daughter Kathleen Chavez told the San Diego Union Tribune.
The newspaper disclosed Chavez regularly attended commemorative events round the United States, along with visit to the White House on Memorial Day weekend.
The White House tweeted “We are saddened to hear the oldest living Pearl Harbor veteran, Ray Chavez, has passed away at the age of 106. We were honored to host him at the White House earlier this year. Thank you for your service to our great Nation, Ray!”.
The bombing of Pearl Harbor took place at 7:55 a.m. Honolulu time on Dec. 7, 1941, famously dubbed “a date which will live in infamy” by U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Less than 200 survivors of the attacks there and on other military bases in Hawaii were still alive in 2016.
Ray Chavez was a member of the crew of the USS Condor, a minesweeper, at Pearl Harbor on the morning of the attacks. He slept at his home in nearby Ewa Beach after the Condor cleaned the east entrance to the harbor earlier that morning, the San Diego Union Tribune reported.
According to the newspaper “My wife ran in and said, ‘We’re being attacked,’ and I said, ‘Who’s going to attack us? Nobody.’ She said that the whole harbor was on fire and when I got outside I saw that everything was black from all the burning oil,” he once said.
The newspaper stated that Chavez was on steady duty in and around Pearl Harbor over the next nine days. He further served four years in the U.S. Navy, assisting them to deliver tanks and Marines to shore in eight Pacific battles,
Later, he attended Pearl Harbor events countless times, his daughter told the newspaper.
Kathleen Chavez said “We went last year and if he was still alive, we were going back again next month,”.
She said “I think he enjoyed the experience but he never saw himself as any different from the other men he served with. He’d always say, ‘I’m no hero. I just did my job’,”.