On December 7, 1941, Navy helmsman Raymond Barron Chavez was on duty aboard the USS Candor. The Candor was really nothing more than a San Diego-based fishing boat commandeered by the Navy to sweep for mines in Pearl Harbor.
“We used to sweep from midnight to 6 a.m. in the morning,” Chavez said.
It was about 3:45 a.m. when the crew made a startling discovery.
“We got a submarine here in protected water, not supposed to be here,” Chavez said.
They reported the Japanese sub sighting to the base, but nothing was done about it. The ship completed its rounds, and Raymond Chavez went back to his home adjacent to Hickman Field and told his wife he was going to bed.
“It seemed like five minutes after I fell asleep. She came over and told me, ‘Get up, get up, get up.’ I said, ‘What for?’ She said, ‘We’re being attacked,'” Chavez said.
Today, at age 99, the images are still vivid.
“Just then there was a Japanese torpedo plane flying right over our house. He was so low we could see who he was,” Chavez said.
Every year, he travels to Hawaii for the Pearly Harbor survivor memorial.
“Just to think about all the men who were lost and wounded, it just gets me every time I go over there,” he said. “It’s a good, good feeling to feel that you’ve helped just a tiny bit to win the war.”
We honor you, Raymond Chavez.