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In this Dec. 5, 2016, file photo, Ray Chavez, a Pearl Harbor survivor from Poway, Calif., poses for a photo as he was eating breakfast in Honolulu, Hawaii.Audrey McAvoy/AP

Ray Chavez, the oldest U.S. military survivor of the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor that plunged the United States into the Second World War, died Wednesday. He was 106.

Mr. Chavez, who had been battling pneumonia, died in his sleep in the San Diego suburb of Poway, his daughter, Kathleen Chavez, told the Associated Press.

As recently as last May he had travelled to Washington where he was honoured on Memorial Day by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Daniel Martinez, chief historian for the National Park Service at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, confirmed that Mr. Chavez was the oldest survivor of the attack that killed 2,335 U.S. military personnel and 68 civilians.

“I still feel a loss,” Mr. Chavez said during 2016 ceremonies marking the attack’s 75th anniversary. “We were all together. We were friends and brothers. I feel close to all of them.”

Hours before the attack, he was aboard a minesweeper patrolling the harbour’s east entrance when he and others saw the periscope of a Japanese submarine. They notified a destroyer that sunk it shortly before the Japanese bombers arrived.

By then Mr. Chavez had gone home to sleep. His wife woke him up to tell him about the attack and he ran back to the harbour to find it in flames.

Mr. Chavez would spend the next week there, working around the clock sifting through the destruction.

Later he was assigned to the transport ship USS La Salle, ferrying troops, tanks and other equipment across the Pacific.

He left the military in 1945 suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder that left him anxious and shaking.

Returning to San Diego, he took a job as a landscaper. He said the outdoors, a healthy diet and a strict workout program restored his health. Still, he would not talk about Pearl Harbor for decades. Then, on a whim, he decided to return to Hawaii in 1991 to mark the attack’s 50th anniversary.

“Then we did the 55th, the 60th, the 65th and the 70th, and from then on we went to every one,” his daughter said.

Born March 12, 1912, in San Bernardino, Calif., to Mexican immigrant parents, Ray moved to San Diego as a child, where his family sold flowers. He joined the U.S. Navy in 1938.

Mr. Chavez was preceded in death by his wife, Margaret. He leaves only his daughter.

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