A 105-year-old veteran from San Diego, known to be the oldest survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor, makes his return trip to Hawaii every year representing the thousands of Americans who died during the attack on Dec. 7, 1941.
Seaman 1st Class Raymond Chavez was assigned to the USS Condor during the time of the attack.
Chavez recalls a Japanese midget submarine being sighted roughly four hours before the attack. That day, he was asleep at home after a minesweeping mission that helped sink an enemy submarine. The contact was handed over to the USS Ward and Chavez’ ship was ordered to return.
Chavez’ wife woke him up telling him that Pearl Harbor was being attacked.
“I never will forget [Pearl Harbor] as long as I live,” Chavez said.
“You could see the black smoke from one end to the other,” he said. “The ships were on fire, and burning their oil.”
Chavez fought against the Japanese during the attack on Pearl Harbor and stayed there for more than a week to help in the fighting, as well as the recovery.
“I started crying,” Chavez said. “I’m not ashamed to admit it… all the Sailors who were trying to save themselves, and all the dead bodies, and the oil.”
Watch Chavez tell his Pearl Harbor story here: