POWAY, Calif. -- The oldest living U.S. veteran of the Pearl Harbor attack, a 105-year-old Poway man, received a birthday letter Thursday from President Donald Trump.
After wishing Ray Chavez a happy birthday, the president wrote, "I also join your many admirers in thanking you for your service to the United States of America. As the oldest living survivor of Pearl Harbor, your remarkable story is treasured by our nation, and the sacrifices you made in service to our country should fill you with tremendous pride."
Next to his signature, Trump wrote "Keep going!" The letter was tweeted out by presidential Press Secretary Sean Spicer.
Chavez, whose birthday was last Friday, was a crewman aboard the minesweeper USS Condor, the first ship to spot a periscope from a Japanese midget submarine that tried to find its way into the harbor. A nearby destroyer on patrol then sank the sub.
By the time Japanese aircraft roared overhead, Chavez was off-duty and sleeping at home. He raced back to his post, where he remained for a week. He later served as a quartermaster aboard a troop transport.
In interviews, Chavez has credited a twice-a-week exercise program at a gym for his longevity. A birthday celebration for him was held last weekend aboard the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum.
Winding up the letter, Trump wrote, "Melania and I want to join your friends and loved ones in honoring and thanking you for your service to our great nation. Our best wishes for health and happiness in the coming year."