According to the Associated Press, Ray Chavez, the oldest U.S. military survivor of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, died Wednesday. He was 106 years old and had been battling pneumonia. His daughter, Kathleen Chavez, said that he died peacefully in his sleep in the San Diego suburb of Poway.
Chavez was born in San Bernardino, California, and grew up in San Diego, where his family ran a wholesale flower business. In his early 20s, he married and had a daughter. Then in 1938, at the age of 27, he joined the Navy. While serving Chavez was a quartermaster stationed in Pearl Harbor at the time of the Japanese attack on the island that plunged America into World War II in 1941.
According to the Honolulu Star Advisor, “Chavez surged into national prominence three years ago when Pearl Harbor veterans recognized him as the oldest survivor of the 1941 Japanese attack. The soft-spoken Chavez often said he was overwhelmed by the media attention but he was proud to represent his country.”
Later on in life Chavez spent three decades as a groundskeeper at the University of California, San Diego. After, he ran his own landscaping and groundskeeping business in the Poway area until he finally retired at age 96.
Earlier this year, he met with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office ahead of Memorial Day. The White House tweeted their condolences to the Chavez family after learning the news he had passed away.
We salute Ray Chavez for his service to our country. He truly did epitomize of the “greatest generation”.
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! pic.twitter.com/CA7Xdcxz89
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) November 22, 2018