Oldest US military veteran and surviver of Pearl Harbor dies at age 106

Odette Odendaal
Nov 22, 2018
06:27 P.M.
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On Wednesday, November 21, the oldest survivor of the U.S. military of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Ray Chavez, passed away. He was 106.


Ray had been battling pneumonia and died while asleep in his Poway home, San Diego. Last May Ray traveled to Washington D.C. for a Memorial Day honor by President Donald Trump.


The White House tweeted a statement on Wednesday that said:

"We were honored to host him at the White House earlier this year. Thank you for your service to our great nation, Ray!"

Read more on our Twitter account @amomama_usa.

The chief historian for the National Park Service at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Daniel Martinez, confirmed that Ray Chavez was the oldest survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor that killed 68 civilians and 2,335 U.S. military personnel. 


Ray was aboard the minesweeper USS Condor hours before the attack. The ship patrolled the harbor’s east entrance and spotted a Japanese submarine periscope. A destroyer got notified and sunk the submarine.

By that time Ray had already finished his shift and was sound asleep at home. His wife later woke him and said that they got attacked, Ray ran back to the harbor and found everything in flames.

He spent the next week helping on around the clock clearing of debris and then got assigned to the transport ship USS La Salle that ferry what is needed to war-torn islands across the Pacific, from Guadalcanal to Okinawa.


After leaving the military in 1945, Ray took a job as a landscaper and groundskeeper in his hometown of San Diego. He refused to talk about Pearl Harbor for many years but then whimsically decided to join the ceremonies in Hawaii marking the attack’s 50th anniversary.

As a child, Ray moved to San Diego with his Mexican immigrant parents from San Bernardino, California where he was born on March 12, 1912.

Ray got married and had a daughter while in his early 20s and joined the navy in 1938 when he was 27 years old. He got assigned to the minesweeper USS Condor at Pearl Harbor.


As a result of PTSD Ray left the military in 1945 with a terrible blow to both him and his wife a few years later when their daughter, son in law and 18-month-old granddaughter died in a car accident in the 1950s.

The couple then decided to adopt and took 5-year-old Kathleen home from a San Diego orphanage home in 1957. Kathleen grew up to serve in the Navy from 1974 to 1991 and became the Navy’s first female jet engine mechanic. Kathleen lived with her father Ray after the passing of her mother in the mid-1980s.


A memorial wreath-laying ceremony in honor of Ray Chavez will be held at the next Pearl Harbor anniversary memorial on December 7 in Hawaii.

The death of another military member yesterday is mourned. The service member got killed in Afghanistan while in service of his country, the third American to die in the last month.

No other details are currently available, but the incident is being investigated according to the Resolute Support press release.The press release also states that the name of the service member killed will not be released until 24 hours after the family got notified 

He is the eighth American service member killed in Afghanistan in 2018. One of those service members was Brent Taylor, the former mayor of North Ogden.


Brent took a year off from his duties in office in January 2018 to serve with the Utah Army National Guard in Afghanistan. On Saturday, November 3, Brent got killed during an ‘insider attack in Kabul orchestrated by a member of the Afghan Armed Forces who he had trained.

The remains of Brent Taylor arrived back in the United States during the early hours of November 6 and got received by his widow Jennie at the Dover Air Force Base in Delaware.