Ray Chavez, the oldest U.S. military survivor of the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, died Wednesday at age 106 after a battle with pneumonia.
Chavez had traveled to Washington in May, when President TrumpDonald TrumpUkraine's president compares UN to 'a retired superhero' Collins to endorse LePage in Maine governor comeback bid Heller won't say if Biden won election MORE honored him on Memorial Day.
“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 White House tweeted after Chavez’s death.
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
Chavez still felt a connection to those who were attacked more than 75 years later.
“I still feel a loss,” Chavez said during a 2016 ceremony marking the attack’s 75th anniversary. “We were all together. We were friends and brothers. I feel close to all of them.”
Hours before the attack took place, Chavez was aboard a minesweeper when he and others noticed the periscope of a Japanese submarine in the area. They notified a destroyer that sunk the submarine before the attack commenced, according to The Associated Press.
Chavez went home to sleep after an all-night shift, but was quickly woken by his wife.
“It seemed like I only slept about 10 minutes when she called me and said, ‘We’re being attacked,’” he recalled in 2016. “And I said, ‘Who is going to attack us?’”
“She said, ‘The Japanese are here, and they’re attacking everything.’”
Chavez would work around the clock the following week to put out the flames and suffered for years after from post-traumatic stress disorder, refusing to talk about the attack.
Chavez attributed his longevity to the outdoors, eating healthy and a strict workout regiment.
“He loved trees and he dearly loved plants and he knew everything about a plant or tree that you could possibly want to know,” his daughter told the AP. “And he finally retired when he was 95.”
He is survived by his daughter.