President Donald Trump honored Thursday the oldest living Pearl Harbor veteran, 105-year-old Ray Chavez, in a happy birthday letter that has since gone viral.
“It is an honor to join your friends and family in wishing you a happy 105th birthday,” Trump wrote in an official White House letter. “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 have made in service to our country should fill you with tremendous pride,” it continued.
Trump heralded the veteran’s “unwavering commitment to freedom” and expressed gratitude on behalf of himself and the American public.
“From your humble beginning in San Bernardino, California to the front lines at Pearl Harbor, your undaunted courage, love of country and unwavering commitment to freedom earned you the eternal respect and gratitude of the American people.”
Praising both Chavez and “the Greatest Generation,” Trump also thanked the veteran for helping to preserve the values that America holds dear.
“Our Nation owes the Greatest Generation — your generation — a tremendous debt of gratitude for an extraordinary legacy of liberty and freedom around the world. It is a debt that our country can never repay,” Trump said.
“The values for which you so nobly fought have ensured security and prosperity for millions of people.”
“Melania and I want to join your friends and loved ones in honoring and thanking you for your service to our great Nation. Our very best wishes for health and happiness in the coming year,” Trump added.
Upon signing the letter, Trump also added a message for Chavez to “Keep going!”
Chavez, who was assigned to the USS Condor, recounted his experience after being woken up during the attack.
“I saw all the destruction on the ships that were torpedoed and bombed and all the bodies that were scattered around in the oil,” he said in 2009. “And sailors trying to get out of the (water) … and being saved by some of the small craft. They’d come right alongside them and pick them up, the ones that were alive.”