At 104 Years Of Age, Ray Chavez Hits The Gym He Can Visit Pearl Harbor

Meet Ray Chavez.


Chavez is one of San Diego’s most distinguished residents.

At 104 years old, Chavez is the oldest surviving veteran of the Pearl Harbor attack that took place on Dec. 7, 1941.

There are less than 2,000 Pearl Harbor survivors still living today.

Seaman 1st class Chavez was still in his twenties when Japanese warplanes attacked his base, located near Honolulu Hawaii.


Over the course of the two hour attack, 2,403 people were killed, prompting President Roosevelt to call Dec. 7th, “a day that will live in infamy.”

In the aftermath, Chavez remained on continuous patrol for several days, witnessing the devastation first hand.


During those anxious days, Chavez didn’t know if his wife or child had survived. Thankfully for Chavez, they survived.

Even at 104 years of age, Chavez still falls asleep thinking about the horrific events.

In an interview with People, Chavez’s daughter, Kathleen Chavez, who is also retired from the Navy, said that when Ray closes his eyes, he can “see, smell and hear every second.”

 As the war progressed, Chavez earned the rank of chief, but he retired from military life in 1945, due to PTSD-related issues.

"December 7th, 1941 – A day which will live in infamy." -Roosevelt 75 years ago the Empire of Japan launched a surprise attack on the United States Naval Base Pearl Harbor, Hawaii decimating the pacific fleet. Eighteen ships either sunk or badly damaged, 350 aircraft were destroyed or badly damaged, and the loss of life was tremendous. 2,403 people lost their lives that day and another 1,178 were wounded. The USS Arizona still lies at the bottom of Pearl Harbor with its crew still entombed. This act of war catapulted America into World War II. America struck back to the heart of Japan with fearless pilots in the Doolittle Raids, The bombing of Hiroshima, and two days later the bombing of Nagasaki knocking Japan out of the war. The bombings of Japan took the lives of 130,000- 220,000 people half of which were in the first days. No good thing comes from war but we will always remember those who lost their lives. Pro Patria! #pearlharbor #december7th #1941 #army #navy #marines #airforce #remember #neverforget #rockthetroops #worldwar2 #veterans #freedomisntfree #?? #america #raychavez

A photo posted by Jon Lawrence (@officialjonlaw) on

The events of the war took a strong toll on Chavez. For three months after his retirement, Chavez couldn’t stop shaking from the psychological trauma he’d endured, Kathleen told the San Diego Union-Tribune.

More than four decades after the war, Chavez couldn’t overcome the emotional hurdles to return to Pearl Harbor.


The emotional and mental burden was too much for him to bear, his daughter told People.

And then on the 50th anniversary of the attack in 1991, Chavez found the courage he needed to visit the memorial.

#pearlharbormemorial #pearlharbor75 #75yearsagotoday #hawaii #oahu #ussarizona #ussarizonamemorial

A photo posted by Sarah Milligan (@mattsarahmilligan) on

Earlier this year, Chavez spoke to the San Diego Union-Tribune about his first trip back, saying, “The first time I went back, I cried.”

Since then, Chavez has gotten older, but he’s not about to let his advanced age keep him from returning to Pearl Harbor.


Two times a week, for the last three years, Chavez and his personal trainer,  Sean Thompson, have kept the veteran in great shape.

The 104-year-old credits a healthy lifestyle and a personal trainer as the reason he’s still able to make the trip to Hawaii.


Chavez works out more than some people half his age.

Thanks to his efforts in the gym — like his exercise bike routine — good health has enabled Chavez to make the long trip every year.

December 7th, 2016, marks the 75th anniversary of the attack, and Chavez was there to pay his respects.

Never forget. #pearlharbormemorial #pearlharborday #pearlharbor #neverforget #neverforgotten #75years #merica??

A photo posted by Nolan Anderson (@nolan_anderson3) on

A day that once lived in “infamy” is now a day to honor the bravery Chavez, and many other heroes, exhibited that harrowing day.


“I hope people never forget. They can’t,” Ray told People magazine.

Watch Ray prepare for the 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

INSPIRING AMERICA: 3 years ago, 104-year-old US veteran Ray Chavez — the oldest-known Pearl Harbor attack survivor — started working with a trainer to prepare his body to make the trip to Hawaii this week to mark the 75th anniv. of the attack. #InspiringAmerica #PearlHarbor

Posted by NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt on Monday, December 5, 2016

READ: It’s 2016 And Latino Veterans Are Getting Discharged, Then Deported

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Authorities Have Identified Gabriel Romero As The Person Who Killed Two People In The Pearl Harbor Shooting

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Authorities Have Identified Gabriel Romero As The Person Who Killed Two People In The Pearl Harbor Shooting

All mass shootings are travesties. Whether they occur in a public place or a school, they always instill fear, sadness, and numbness mainly because they happen so often. When a shooting occurs on a military camp, it is just as daunting and debilitating because servicemen and servicewomen are there to protect and serve. Yet we also know they too suffer from an array of mental health issues simply because of their profession. The shooting at Pearl Harbor is another example of the gun violence crisis gripping this nation.

Officials have identified the U.S. sailor who killed two people and himself as 22-year-old Gabriel Romero. 

On Dec. 4 at around 2:30 p.m., authorities say that Romero began shooting at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard in Hawaii. He shot three Department of Defense workers at the Dry Dock 2 on the base, the New York Post reports. Two of the victims, both males, were declared dead later at the hospital. 

One witness said he saw the shooter and assumed he was a sailor “because he was in a sailor uniform.” He also reports, according to the New York Post, that he recognized the sound as gunfire and also witnessed the shooter shoot himself.  The third victim is currently recovering at a local hospital. 

While all the victims were working on the base, they are considered civilians, not military.

Credit: @nypost / Twitter

“These victims are not only dedicated [International Federation of Professional and Technical Engineers] IFPTE union members, they are hard-working public servants who go to work each day to serve the taxpayers and our military forces. They are reflective of the thousands of workers at Pearl Harbor and elsewhere that go to work to earn a living and serve their nation,” the organization said, according to the Star Advertiser. “No worker should have to go to work without the expectation of safely returning to their family and loved ones.” One of the victims has been identified as 32-year-old Vincent Kapoi Jr., a local of Hawaii. The names of the other two victims have not been released. 

“We are saddened by this incident, and our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families,” Rear Adm. Robert Chadwick, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii, said in a statement posted on Facebook. “The Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard is a vital part of our Navy ohana, and we have generations of families who work there. Our security forces are working closely with agencies investigating this incident, and we are making counseling and other support available to those who need it after this tragedy.”

Officials have not reported a motive by the shooter. At the time of the shooting, Romero’s duty was to guard the USS Columbia, a Pearl Harbor-based submarine that was in the drydock for maintenance at the time.

According to the Navy Region Hawaii, Base security, Navy investigative services, and other agencies are investigating the incident. However, Hawaii News Now is reporting that Romero had been ordered to take anger management classes. The outlet says that Romero “was having disciplinary problems at work,” and was instructed to seek help for his anger issues. 

Rear Admiral Robert Chadwick, commander of Navy Region Hawaii, told reporters that he wasn’t sure if Romero knew the people he shot. Shipyard Commander Capt. Greg Burton did send a message to families of the victims, saying, “Looking ahead, we will honor the life and legacy of those lost,” Burton said, according to Hawaii News Now

“Even now, as we mourn the loss of members of our ”ohana, please take the opportunity to reconnect with each other and to reinforce and strengthen the bonds with each other.”

This Saturday marked the 78th anniversary of the 1941 Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii and elsewhere, including in San Diego.

Credit: @HeavySan / Twitter

“We still owe a great debt to the greatest generation,” Scott McGaugh, the marketing director for the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, said to the San Diego Tribune. There are very few of them left. When we honor these kinds of days it reminds all of us that our nation can come together and unify for the greater good. That was certainly the case in World War II.”

On Dec.r 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor military base in Hawaii, killing  2,335 military servicemen and women, and 68 civilians.  It is unclear if the Saturday anniversary event at Pearl Harbor will pay respect to the people who died this week. 

READ:  At 104 Years Of Age, Ray Chavez Hits The Gym He Can Visit Pearl Harbor

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