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.
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.
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.
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
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