In the News
By Emily Sorensen
The Poway Post Office may be renamed after the late Ray Chavez, longtime Poway resident and former oldest living Pearl Harbor survivor.
The bill, introduced in May by U.S. Rep. Scott Peters, would rename the Poway Post Office to the “Ray Chavez Post Office.” Peters, who serves the 52nd district of California, said the bill has the full bipartisan support of the California U.S. representatives.
Peters announced the bill at a press conference held Wednesday morning at the post office on Midland Road. The conference was also attended by U.S. Rep. Mike Levin, Mayor Steve Vaus, Holly Shaffner of Honor Flight Network, several Poway City Councilmembers and Chavez’s daughter, Kathleen Chavez, as well as many other members of Chavez’s family.
“Ray was known to many as the oldest surviving veteran of Pearl Harbor, but here in Poway, he’s remembered as a father, friend, and businessman,” said Peters. “Naming this post office, in some ways, honors all our veterans and thanks them for their service. Ray embodies the best of the Greatest Generation and a legacy of veterans who sacrificed so much for our country.”
Peters said he thinks the bill will pass quickly, probably sometime in the fall. “It’s just a matter of getting on the calendar and getting it voted on,” he said.
Chavez died in 2018 at 106 years old and had lived in Poway since 1959. He grew up in San Diego’s Old Town and Logan Heights communities. Chavez joined the Navy in 1938 and was serving on the minesweeper USS Condor, stationed in Pearl Harbor, when the harbor was attacked.
Chavez, having finished his shift, was at sleeping at his home in nearby Ewa Beach when his wife told him the harbor was on fire. He then spent the next 10 days on the USS Condor, unable to return home as the Navy feared the harbor would be attacked again, Peters said.
Following the war, Chavez retired from the Navy in 1945 and returned to San Diego, where he worked as a groundskeeper for UC San Diego for 30 years. He then ran his own groundskeeping business, retiring at 96 and was a member of the Poway Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter.
He came into national awareness four years ago, when his fellow Pearl Harbor veterans recognized him as the oldest survivor. Chavez, accompanied by his daughter Kathleen, traveled to Hawaii several times for memorials and was invited to the White House for Memorial Day last year by President Trump.
“My dad was really humble and never expected recognition for his service. He always said, ‘I’m no hero. I just did my job.’ To him, this Post Office would mean much more than a tribute to his personal experiences or continued legacy,” said Kathleen Chavez in a press release. “Instead, he’d want it to serve as a daily reminder of the real heroes who lost their lives during the Pearl Harbor attacks – something he never wanted people to forget.”