A NICE STORY

103 and 104 year old Pearl Harbor survivors to visit the battle site:

Lots, lots more (plus pics) at the link.

For 50 years Ray Chavez never said a word about Pearl Harbor.

His daughter Kathleen only knew he was stationed at the military base in Hawaii when it was attacked because her mother had told her. And when Ray was invited to attend the 50th anniversary commemoration in 1991, he wasn’t interested.

But Kathleen kept pestering him and he decided to go.

Now, at 104, he is Pearl Harbor’s oldest survivor – and willing, finally, to speak about his memories of the day when 2,043 Americans were killed and 1,178 were wounded.

He plans to go to Hawaii in December for the 75th commemoration of the attack, with the second oldest survivor, 103-year-old Jim Downing.

The pair met for the first time last year.

Seaman 1st Class Chavez was a 30-year-old working on a minesweeper, the USS Condor, in Pearl Harbor, on December 7, 1941.

He worked a shift from midnight until 6am as the vessel swept the west side of the channel. Sometime between 3.30am and 3.45am one of his crewmates called the officer of the deck.

Ray said: ‘He said: “Mr. McCloy, we have company here” and he said, “What kind of company?”‘

It was a submarine in restricted waters. The captain and senior officers were informed but no noise was heard from the mystery submarine. Ray and his crew went back to work.

When Ray finished his shift at 6am he went to his home near the Pearl Harbor entrance to get some rest. He fell asleep right away. Two hours later he woke up to screams from his wife, Margaret: ‘We’re being attacked! We’re being attacked!’

When he went outside, a scene of horror was unfolding.

‘Sure enough, the whole harbor was full of dead black smoke,’ he said.

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