SAN DIEGO (NEWS 8) — The oldest living Pearl Harbor veteran is celebrating a major milestone.
Poway resident Ray Chavez turned 106 years old over the weekend.
Chavez told News 8 his secret to longevity as he celebrated his birthday with family and friends.
"For one thing, I don't drink alcohol or do drugs," Chavez said.
While it's been 76 years since the fateful attack, the memories of what Chavez saw that day are still fresh in his mind.
"I couldn't believe it, even as I was looking at it," he said.
On Dec. 7, 1941, as the first bombs fell on the USS Arizona in Pearl Harbor, Chavez - a Seaman First Class - was falling asleep after a shift sweeping for mines - when his wife frantically woke him.
"She said 'we're being attacked,'" said Chavez. "I said 'who would attack us?' and she said 'the Japanese are here.'"
Chavez said he went outside and saw the ships in the harbor were on fire.
More than 2,400 Americans died that day.
"The oil and grease was on fire in the water and all the sailors that were alive were trying to save themselves and other boats were trying to save them too," Chavez said.
He also rushed to help
"I couldn't believe we were being attacked and at war," said Chavez.
Now as he marks another year of health and happiness, Chavez can also look back on his accomplishments - which includes being honored by the U.S. Postal Service last year with his own stamp.
And make no mistake, at age 106 Chavez still has no plans of slowing down.
"I couldn't feel any better," he said.