SAN DIEGO — President Donald Trump has signed a bill that will name a California post office for Ray Chavez, who was the oldest military veteran to survive Japan's 1941 attack on U.S. forces in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, when he died in 2018.
He "certainly left his mark on this community and our country," said U.S. Rep. Scott Peters, D-California, who sponsored the bill, at a news conference last year.
Chavez joined the Navy in 1938 and was aboard the USS Condor, a minesweeper, when it was the first Navy vessel to report sightings of a Japanese submarine in nearby waters before the Dec. 7, 1941, attack that drew the U.S. into World War II.
The battle killed 2,335 U.S. military personnel and 68 civilians.
Chavez, who died at age 106, grew up in two of San Diego's oldest neighborhoods, Old Town and Logan Heights. He returned to his hometown after the war to work as a groundskeeper at the University of California, San Diego, and he later owned a landscaping business in Poway.
In May 2018, just months before he died after a bout with pneumonia, Chavez traveled to Washington to meet with Trump at the White House.
Two days later, Trump said of the veteran, "What a guy. And, Ray, you are truly an inspiration to all who are here today and all of our great country."
After Chavez's death Trump said, "His legacy is forever etched into our country’s rich history."
When asked about his service, "He'd just shrug his shoulders and shake his head and say, 'I was just doing my job,'" daughter Kathleen Chavez said in 2018.