The oldest American survivor of the Japanese air attack on Pearl Harbor has died. Ray Chavez was 106.
Gary Bobileff of the Spirit of Freedom Foundation told 10News, "He was a humble man and he was truly a patriot."
Seaman first class Ray Chavez was assigned to the Navy minesweeper U.S.S. Condor; it was on continuous duty for the next nine days in the waters around Pearl Harbor. Bobileff described his focus as two-fold.
"Number one; love of country; that is of paramount important. Number two: Be strong, be bold, be brave."
Chavez has often attended commemorative events in San Diego and in Hawaii. A few months ago Ray Chavez was invited to the White House.
"The president acknowledged him, shook hands."
Richard Rovsek, also from the Spirit of Liberty Foundation of Rancho Santa Fe, recalls the moment.
"It was very emotional; the president was charming as he can be. Ray announced he did not vote for him, by the way."
The White House tweeted about the loss Wednesday.
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
Rovsek said he spoke to the White House and believes President Trump will issue a special proclamation for Chavez for this Dec. 7th. He also reflected on Ray's thoughts of late.
"He said he was so sad that America wasn't getting along and we were divided. He and the greatest generation, they knew what it was like to bring America together. We need to do that again and Ray felt that from the bottom of his heart."