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Interview with Raymond Barron Chavez [2/25/2009]

Carl Cox:

Hello, and welcome to the Veterans History Project. My name is Carl Cox and we are here with the Voluntary Resource Management Service of the VA San Diego Healthcare System at the VA Medical Center in San Diego, California. I am a volunteer at this facility. I am the producer, and I will be the cameraman, and our host conducting today's interview. Today's date is February 25th, 2009. And today's guest is a veteran of World War II. Please welcome, Mr. Raymond Chavez.

Carl Cox:

Please state your full name.

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Raymond Barron Chavez.

Carl Cox:

Please state your date of birth.

Raymond Barron Chavez:

March 10th, 1912.

Carl Cox:

Please state your current address.

Raymond Barron Chavez:

[Address Redacted]

Carl Cox:

Which war or wars did you serve in?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Just World War II.

Carl Cox:

Which branch of the military did you serve in?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Navy.

Carl Cox:

What was the highest rank that you achieved?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Chief Quartermaster.

Carl Cox:

In what year did you enlist in the Naval Reserves?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

I think it was in, around 1938. Because it was three, about three years before War started. I nterviewer: Did you go to Boot Camp?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

No.

Carl Cox:

And what was your first duty assignment while you were in the Reserves?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

We made cruise on destroyers. The first one was to Mexico; Guaymas, Sonora, Mexico. And then I made another cruise on a destroyer, also.

Carl Cox:

What is the name of that destroyer?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

The first one was the USS Dallas, and the second was the USS Holman. I nterviewer: Where were you on December 7th, 1941?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

I was assigned to a minesweeper, USS Condor AMC 14, in Pearl Harbor. I nterviewer: And can you tell me about the events of that day?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Well, on December the 6th it was just an ordinary, regular, everyday, or every night duty. And on December the ih we proceeded to go, we were assigned to go to the, sweep the channel and area on the west side of the channel because there was another sweeper on the east side. But we were on the west side and we usually started about 12:30 in the morning, on the sweeping operations, and we usually got, we completed on the operations about 6:00 to 6:30 in the morning. And that morning on December the ih we went out the regular sweeping assignment and until 3:45 in the morning. And I happened to be on the helm, helmsman on the minesweeper. And our Officer of the Deck, whose name was Ensign McCloy, and he was a mid-ship looking forward and had a Quartermaster on watch, and he was on the port side sitting on the Captain's chair as a lookout.

And about 3:30, 4-5, 45, 3:45 he called Mr. McCloy, the Officer of the Deck, and said, 'Mr. McCloy, we have company here.' And Mr. McCloy answered, What kind of company, what is it? Can you see it?' And he said, 'Yes, it's a submarine and he's in restricted waters.' And Mr. McCloy went to the port side and looked at it and sure enough he verified it that is was a submarine and wasn't suppose to be there. And he reported it. The Captain was in his bunker getting some rest. And Mr. McCloy sent word that we had a unidentified submarine in restricted waters.

And the Captain, I can't remember the name of the Captain, but he says, he gave the order, 'Notify the USS Ward right away and also, COM14.' And the Quartermaster on watch, Uk ... his name was Utreck, and he likely informed the USS Ward what was happening and also the COM14. And they didn't reply, as far as I know they didn't reply, and then he came back to the bridge and asked me if I wanted to see it. And so he relieved me on the wheel and I took a look at it, and by that time the submarine almost submerged and alii could see was the periscope, about eight inches or so of the periscope, but I could see the fluorescent in the water that he was going through the ocean to the water. And that's all I could see. But I could verify there was a submarine.

And then after all the reports were in, we proceeded with our minesweeping operations and we finished about 6:00 or 6:30 in the morning. And we went back to our station at the Section Base and we were tied up and it was just a regular day. We never thought anything about it because we left it up to the Ward and to COM14. And then we never thought about it, so we secured. And my family, my wife and my oldest daughter were there with me. But we lived in naval housing, almost across the street from Hickam Field entrance, and very close to the Pearl Harbor entrance. And I'd taken my brother, because he was also on my minesweeper and asked him to come over and sleep at home, because it was too noisy to sleep onboard ship. But not only ours but all around there.

So he did go with me and I, my wife asked me if I wanted breakfast and I said, 'No.' I was too tired and I hadn't slept in all night. And I said, 'I'm going to bed.' I went to bed and fell asleep right away. And almost at 8:00 o'clock, I think about five minutes to eight she came in and tried to wake me up. I said, she said, 'Come on, better hurry, get up, we're being attacked.' I said, 'Nobody is attacking us, just leave me alone, and I want to get some sleep.' She said, 'No, no, come on, the whole Harbor's on fire.' And I said, 'That can't be.' So, she finally convinced me to go out and look at it, and sure enough the whole Harbor was smoking and on fire.

And by that time there was a torpedo plane flying over, a Japanese torpedo plane, kept flying over our house and very low, and he was going with torpedoes, he was going to drop them off and fly right across the channel to the battleships, any battleship, I guess. And then, and let's see, I told I got Brett right on my, sent my brother back to, he had an old bicycle that he was riding and he got in, got Brett and he left the house right away and he went back to, he was going back to the, to the ship. And in the meantime the Japanese were strafing all Hickam Field, and he got caught right, when one of the planes was going to start firing on fire, and he jumped into a ditch right along side the road going to the base. And he hid there for, until the plane pulled over and nothing happened to him, but he got up after and got, he was through with the firing and he his bicycle went back.

In the meantime, I was, I got dressed and I didn't know how I was going to get back to the ship, because I didn't have no transportation. But I was going to walk or run or do something. And about that time one of my friends from the ship called me, his name was Young. He was a Machinist's Mate Young. And he asked me if I wanted a ride back to the ship, I said, 'Sure.' And he stopped and picked me up and we went back and we went back to the ship at the Section Base. And by that time we, the other fellows were getting the ship ready to go out to sea again.

We were assigned to a different location of sweeping. We were on the, we were ordered to sweep on the west side, the east side of the channel. And the first one was the west and this one was the east. And we started to lay down our gear and by that time we was full of action it's 8:30 or so, something like that. And we're laying out our minesweeping gear because we were going to sweep for acoustic and magnetic mines. And let out some of the gear and here comes a destroyer ship flying out of that harbor. And instead of going straight out in the channel, where they always do, he turned to portside and come on our stern and cut up our cables. So we couldn't do anymore work. And they, we were ordered to proceed to the harbor and tie up.

And they, we assigned us right next to the USS Honolulu. And we went sailing in there I sawall the destruction on the ships that were torpedoed and bombed and all the bodies that were scattered around in the oil. And sailors trying to get out of the ... and being saved by some of the small craft. They'd come right along side them and pick them up, the ones that were alive. And they said they were going to repair our cables as soon as possible, so we could go back to sweeping. But that wasn't the case.

We stayed in there for 10 days. Then finally we got, we got repaired on them, magnetic cables and, and but by that time they had assigned another minesweeper to our area and he finished sweeping that area. So all we had to do we had to do was just go back to the Section Base where we were assigned all the time, and tied up there, and that was the end of our sweeping operation because we couldn't do anything else. And we were there for another 10 days, I think, or, before we, they let us even go ashore or even step on the dock without permission. And the guards were all over for, if you just stepped on the dock well they'd catch you right away and ask for identification and they'd send you back to the ship from where we came from because we weren't allowed to be on, on the shore because they were expecting more attacks and maybe landing forces. But that wasn't the case.

Carl Cox:

Were you involved in the clean-up of the harbor?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

No.

Carl Cox:

What happened after the 10 days you were in port?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

We just proceeded with our normal operations but on the ship rules and regulations and we just stood by and, and, until we were called to sweeping operations again. In the meantime my wife had been given orders when she went home after the raid was over. They gave her orders and told her to be ready in 10 minutes to get out of the Naval Hospital because they were afraid they would bomb it. So, sure enough in 10 minutes the Navy trucks came in and buses came in and picked up the wives and families and took them to the Honolulu YMCA. And they gathered them there and the next two days they, they were evacuated from the YMCA to Army Hospital up in the hills. I think it was Schofield Barracks, but I'm not sure. But that's were she spent the rest of the time until they allowed her to come back to the apartment in Navy Housing. I nterviewer: About how long was that?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Oh, another probably five or six days. And then they told her that she was going to be activated back to San Diego. And, but that took her longer. And she wasn't evacuated until, oh, about the first of February. And we never saw each other for about a year after that. This is a photograph of my self that was taken in Honolulu while I was stationed aboard the USS Condor.

Carl Cox:

So, the USS Condor continued its minesweeping duties?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Yes,

Carl Cox:

And how long, how long did that continue?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Well, I had actually transferred after my wife and daughter left, evacuated. I actually transferred, and they transferred me alright to the ship on the next dock, which was a Net Tender. So, I wanted to get out of Pearl Harbor. So I was assigned to the USS Ash and it was a Net Tender. And I was in port about two months. Then the asked for volunteers for a new construction because they were building ships faster than they were training men. And I volunteered for that and sure enough I got, I got orders to report to Treasure Island, San Francisco. And after that I didn't know what happened to the Condor.

Carl Cox:

What rank were you at this time?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

I think I was a Quartermaster Third.

Carl Cox:

And so what happened when you got to Treasure Island?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Well, I think about everybody in the Navy was in there because they were sleeping all over, from to the floor to the deck and chairs. There were thousands of men, Marines and Sailors. But after, I had a 10-day leave to come home and visit. Then I reported back to the Treasure Island and they assigned me to the USS La Salle, to the Amphibious Forces then. I nterviewer: And where was the La Salle stationed?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

But, in the, in the Navy Yard in Pearl Harbor. I mean, San Francisco.

Carl Cox:

What rank were you at this time?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

By that time I was promoted to Quartermaster Second. And my duties were to help the Chief, Chief Quartermaster was the Corrections on Charts and Books and anything that pertained to the seaworthy ship, in case we, they sent us somewheres, we had all the corrections on charts and, and safety in the ship.

Carl Cox:

What type of ship was the La Salle?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

It was a Transport, I should I word it, APA, and that meant Auxiliary Personnel Attack. And we were attached to Squadron 13, Transports and Supply ship, Transport, let's see where was ... 13, Squadron 13 and the, Division 26. After that, well, we sailed the Pacific. We didn't get back for months and months.

Carl Cox:

So tell me about your first deployment aboard the USS La Salle?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Well, on the first one I can, I can remember very well because we were alone. We were a simple ship, they sent us to Port Hueneme. And in Port Hueneme there was a base for the Seebees. And we picked up the 68th Seebee Battalion and transported them to Guadalcanal. In Guadalcanal they were still raided by, almost everyday by the Japanese. And they were sent there to maintain Henderson Field, which was secured but they were raided by the enemy. And then after we discharged the passengers and, and all material, we proceeded with orders to go to Fiji Islands and wait for further, further orders. And we were there for 30 days, and we thought that the Navy had forgotten us. And we finally got orders to join, I forgot what Task Force it was, but it was orders to go to New Zealand, going to New Zealand, and to pick up the Second Marine Division. And we joined the, the Transports and Supply ships from, what were the Divisions that we were suppose to att ... be attached to and proceeded to Wellington, New Zealand, and then we boarded the Marines and proceeded up to the New Hebrides. In the New Hebrides we were there for several days for the Marines to, to exercise their landing. And then after the exercises were over, we had orders to go to attack Tarawa, in the Gilbert Islands. That was a major battle that we were, the first one that we encountered after ...

Carl Cox:

Can you tell me about that?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Well, we were, we were attached to Division 26, and we were part of the Second Marine Division and proceeded to land on, land them on Gilbert Island in Tarawa. And we, where action down there, and evidently we didn't get any, any tide reports on, we always get a tide report, high tide and low tide. And in the Gilbert Islands the tide was low and fast. So, when we landed the Marines and some of the boats and boats from other ships got stranded because the tide was going out. And they got stranded and they couldn't move forward, they couldn't move back. In the meantime, the Marines had to walk along waist to, to the island itself. And, and had heavy casualties, especially after they landed on the island and started attacking the enemy. And, and we were suppose to, I think, secure the island in two days or so, but it lasted a week with heavy, heavy casualties. And that's about alii can remember on the island of the attack itself. I nterviewer: Was the La Salle grounded as well?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

No, no, we were anchored farther away. Only the small LCDP's were, where the, where the Marines were transported to the shore. They were the ones that were grounded. Not all of them were grounded, but quite a few other ships, too, because the Division was, we had the old Second Marine Division, which was 12-14,000 men. And other ships like Supply ships, Repair ships, Ammunition ships, and Transports.

Carl Cox:

Were you, were you under attack during that landing?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Nothing I know, because the Japanese Air Force or submarines were not that far out, because it was a chain of islands that we were, the Marshalls, I mean the Gilberts were, that we attacked the main Japanese attack forces.

Carl Cox:

Where did you go after Tarawa?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Let's see. The next amphibious attack was in the Kwajalein and the Marshalls, Marshall Islands. And we had Marines also, but I don't remember what Division they were. And we was getting closer to, to Japanese bases, so we were attacked some, but not, not heavy. And ...

Carl Cox:

Were these aerial attacks?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Yes, yes. But Truk Island was closer, closer to the Marshall, yes, the Marshalls than they were to the Gilberts. And the Japanese had a big Naval base in Truk Island, and this is where all their attack planes came from.

Carl Cox:

So, can you tell me anymore about that experience landing on Truk?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

No, not on Truk, it was on Kwajalein.

Carl Cox:

Oh.

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Kwajalein.

Carl Cox:

Sorry,

Raymond Barron Chavez:

I don't remember hardly anything about that. But I remember that we attacked Kwajalein in the Marshall Islands. I nterviewer: Where did you go after that?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Well, we always came back to either San Francisco or Los Angeles or Seattle, Washington, for the next invasion. The next invasion was in the Ulithi's, I think it was Ulithi Islands.

Carl Cox:

Do you recall what year this was?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

No, I don't.

Carl Cox:

Do you recall what your rank was at that time?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Quartermaster First. I nterviewer: You were First Class?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Yes. And I don't remember very much, but the Ulithi Islands. But their next operation was the Marianas Islands, which was Saipan. We attacked Saipan in the Marianas Islands, that I can remember more, because I, after Marshall the whole Division, Transport Division 26, I mean Squadron 13 went to the ... Saipan in the Marianna Islands. And that's where one of the biggest battles was fought. Not only my trans ... landing forces, but by the Naval Air Forces. That's where, at that time I didn't know but, that's where the ... they named it the Marianas, the 'Marianas Turkey Shoot.' That's where the Naval Forces knocked down, I think, over 300 planes in three or four days, because they were sending in all they had, the Japanese were sending all they had, all the power that they had. And usually, when they sent on a raid like that, they had the suicide planes then, started to use them then, because we were getting closer to Japan. And they'd send out these suicide planes and they'd attack anything that was in their site. And, but, usually the Naval Air Force would, would try to stop them before they got to a Landing Force. And, but, there was always a few that got through, got through there was so many of them.

Carl Cox:

Was the USS La Salle attacked?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

We were attacked just about every invasion after that, because we were in the front lines then. We were one of the first ships but we never got hit, never. Somebody was looking after us, I guess. And then, but we had close calls, very, very close calls. I know the suicide planes would come in close or the torpedo planes would come in close, and usually they knocked them, some other ships would knock them down before they'd come to us. But I remember that sometimes the bombers, the dive bombers would try to attack us, but they never did. Although some of the transports further ahead of us they did get bombed and torpedoed.

Carl Cox:

How long did that engagement last? weeks, 10 days or two weeks I remember, I guess exactly how long it was.

Carl Cox:

What happened after that?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Well, we always after an invasion like that they sent us to a port for further orders. And usually, sometimes they sent us to pick up reinforcements and go back to the islands of the attack and, and discharge of military personnel and material. But then we were assigned to the, sent us to a different island for recuperation and reorganization of the next Pacific battle. And usually it takes about two or three weeks to do that because in the fact you have to gather all the troops from different islands and different Divisions for the next Amphibian attack on another island. I nterviewer: What island was it that they sent you for R and R?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

One was in New Caledonia, in Noumea, New Caledonia. And that's where I got sick. I, we hadn't had any ice cream for months and months and we went ashore with a couple of other friends of mine and I went ashore in Noumea, and we saw a sign, 'ice cream.' And we headed for that place right away. And over there they don't serve you in a cone. They serve you in a bowl about that big. And I ordered a bowl of ice cream, oh, and I started eating it and I got sick. Oh, I got sick. Not because I was eating it, but it was made out of goat's milk. They didn't have any cattle there, but they had a lot of goats. And I got so sick I had to go back to the ship and recuperate. I never will forget that. And that was R and R, but usually, most of the time, we'd be sent back to the States, and will go into port like Seattle or San Francisco, and then we'd have R and R.

Carl Cox:

Where did you go after Saipan?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Well, we were sent to, I think its Seattle, Washington to regroup again. And we use to go back to the port like we had to go in to, to Navy Yard for minor repairs or, or if the ship needed supplies and ammunition and things like that. And we went to Seattle, Washington after Saipan. And then we were assigned to Army, Army Units. We didn't have anymore Marines. We had the 7ih Army Division and that's when we went to the Philippines.

Carl Cox:

In what year was this?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

I don't remember.

Carl Cox:

What rank were you at this time?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

I was Chief, Chief. This was a photograph taken of myself after I had made Chief Petty Officer. This is a photograph of myself and my shipmates taken aboard the USS La Salle during World War II.

Carl Cox:

Where did you go from there?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Well, we went into Saipan, I mean the Philippines. A huge Task Force was, Admiral Chester Nimitz was in command of, of the Sea Forces. And General MacArthur was on the Southern Forces, but he was coming from Australia and New Zealand, and reinforcements from, from personnel from the Islands where he picked them up and, and so. A certain date, I don't remember what the date was. The Navigator told me to be on the look-out for the Southern Forces because we were, from the West Coast here. And we were to meet them at a certain time. And, and I was looking out on the bridge, because I was stationed on the bridge constantly, almost 24 hours a day. This is a photograph taken of myself aboard the USS La Salle, while I was taking a Sun Blind for position at sea. And sure enough we contacted the Southern Forces from the Landing Forces from Chester Nimitz on the East. .. from from the States. And we both combined our Landing Forces and went into Leyte in the Philippines.

Carl Cox:

Did you experience very much resistance?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

You mean from the ships, yeah. A lot, a lot of resistance, suicide planes and, and landing forces. Oh, gosh, there were bombs slaughtered when they when they landed on the ... because the Japanese always went back instead of being right on the shore, they retreated back to the island, where they trapped a lot of those poor servicemen. And they practically slaughtered them. And, and, but we came under heavy attack by their Japanese Air Forces. And, and that's what closest hits. We were anchored there in Leyte and, like I said, some of the suicide planes were, they came through our Naval Air planes. So one of the suicide planes, I saw them when I was right on the bridge and I saw them come in. And all the officers on the bridge saw them, but we were going to be attacked. And the first place that they'd attack was the bridge to knock out everything. And, and I was watching that through binoculars and then it started getting closer and closer. I couldn't dig any trenches; I mean any fox holes, like somebody did. And, and he come so close I thought we were going to hit, real, for sure that time. But I don't know what happened, but he took a dive for the Transport ahead of us. And I guess he was trying to hit the bridge, too. So, he didn't make it. But he scraped ... he landed on the side of the ship and went down on the side of the ship, knocked out one of the life rafts, took all the chains and part of the anchor and chain and took it right down and he scorched the side of the ship. And he was only about 300 feet away from us. And that was the closest one then. After that, well, it was operations went, after that it was in Lingayen Gulf way up in the northern part of, of Manila. And ...

Carl Cox:

Can you tell me about that experience?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Well, the same thing happened we had on the Transport Squadron. We were still in Squadron 13 and Transport Division 26. And when at MacArthur's, General MacArthur's soldiers went in. And I don't know too much about that, I don't remember, but what I do remember is that we landed them on it then proceeded back. And we stopped at Manila Bay we were, I guess at midnight and it was dark, pitch black. Nothing you could see, nothing, all you could hear was the ship cutting, cutting through the water, the sea water. And right after Manila the ship was headed south, completely south. And fire started coming out of the smoke stack and all through the ship, torpedoed. And we get way around it because we could ... we weren't allowed to stop to help. Only the small ships were because they were afraid that the big ships could sink it, too. And we went around the ship when the Destroyers, Destroyer Escorts were get the survivors and try to put out the ship that was on fire. And, and otherwise we could help out that was actually enough. And the Guy ... I can remember Lingayen Gulf.

Carl Cox:

Where did you go from there?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

We went right to Seattle, Washington and we had an R and R, I think it was 10 days. And then we had to go to ship ... went to the ... and four weeks on the Navy Yard for minor repairs. And then we, we grouped again the whole Division of ships. We grouped again and this time we went with the Army again. And this time we went to Okinawa. And we got there in D plus Ten, but that was the highest, the hottest place we'd been to, because we were attacked constantly. But we were never hit. And with the torpedo planes coming after us, they were close by because they were always shot down. And, and they were sending in, the Japanese were sending these young pilots and the ... 1 understood that they were making these attack planes that they had, these suicide planes they were making out of plywood. So, one shot, they got hit, they'd explode, when, because they were so frail. And, and they, we had how many that were estimated suicide planes coming after us. But I know we were constantly after, we were under attack for days and nights, too.

Carl Cox:

How long were you there?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Gosh, I don't remember very well. I'd say it was 10 days to two weeks.

Carl Cox:

What happened after that?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

After that, we had orders to proceed to San Francisco and, and regroup there. But on the way back, about the middle of the Pacific, the war ended. We, we got word that the war had ended and we still proceeded to San Francisco and we were sure glad it was over with because the next operation they told us would be the big one, Invasion of Japan.

Carl Cox:

Right.

Raymond Barron Chavez:

And I'm glad we ... otherwise I wouldn't be here, I know.

Carl Cox:

So you went back to San Francisco?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Yes.

Carl Cox:

Tell me about your arrival in San Francisco?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Well, you won't believe it. But we didn't get any, any reception that. .. we got dogs barking at us. Because, well, it was, it was suppose to be top secret then, ships arrival and ships debarking. Nobody was supposed to allow ... were allowed to talk about where we had been or where we were going, so, we, we couldn't say anything, except they wouldn't allow any civilians right close to the harbor or to the ships that were tied up. So, nobody was there. This is another photo of ... taken of myself and my shipmates, when I was stationed aboard the USS La Salle.

Carl Cox:

What was your next duty assignment after you arrived back in San Francisco?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Well, they sent us to San Pedro for, for discharge. That was the end of the war, so, they were discharging us as fast as they could. And, and, so, San Pedro is where I got discharged. And, and the doctor, I went for an examination and the doctor who was examining me and found no wounds or anything, but he said, 'I'm going to send you to the hospital.' And I said, 'For what?' He said, 'They'll take good care of you. They'll give you the best care you ever had.' I said, 'Why, there's nothing wrong with me?' He said, 'It's a mental hospital.' He said what I had was 'combat fatigue'. After eight. .. ten battles out there in the Pacific I had. And I didn't know it, but I knew I shook like, like jello. I couldn't even write my name. And that's what he wanted to send me for rest and medication. But it was, and I talked and talked and talked and he tried to explain that I should go to the hospital. I finally talked him out of it. I don't know whether I did the right thing or what, but I, he discharged ... he put his seal of approval that, that I could, I was okay, but I wasn't.

Carl Cox:

So tell me, tell me about your trip home?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Well, it wasn't much of a trip, San Pedro to San Diego. come back to the family. So ...

Carl Cox:

Well, how was that homecoming?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Oh, different.

Carl Cox:

Did you ever seek treatment at the V.A. for combat fatigue?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

No, no. No, I don't know, it took me several years to get over it, though. Starting being myself, I mean shaking and, but to this day I, I can go through the whole war and tell you about it again.

Carl Cox:

Were you awarded any medals or citations?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

No, not the usual, except the usual ribbons that they gave us, American Defense, Philippine Liberation, Pearl Harbor, and Asiatic Pacific. That's the only things I ...

Carl Cox:

Good Conduct?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Well, yeah, I guess so. I always tell them when they ask me that, that they always discharge me with a Good Conduct Medal, that's because they may have never caught me.

Carl Cox:

What did you do in the days and weeks after your discharge?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Well, I just took it easy with some rest and, but I never did, I was on the go with friends and, and saying 'hello' to relatives and getting acquainted with them again. And, and that's the way I down to . I, I got a job. I got my old job, I was a Nurseryman and Landscape. And, and after that, well, it was routine.

Carl Cox:

How long did you do that job?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Weill done that for that particular Nursery I was there 18 years.

Carl Cox:

Did you ever go back to school?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

No. Oh, yeah, I went to Mechanic's School before I got the job, my only job. I thought maybe I would try something different, but I, I couldn't stand it. Grease and oil all the time and I just couldn't stand it.

Carl Cox:

Did you utilize the G.!. Bill?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

The only thing that I utilized it was I joined again ... I heard about the 52-20 Club. That was all the veterans would come back from World War II were entitled to $20.00 a week for 52 weeks, so they named it 52-20. I just got, twice I went to get pay and both times, I guess I got the wrong man to give me my check and he threw the check at me. And I just thought to myself I don't have to go through this. So, I never went back, I guess I got two checks and that was it.

Carl Cox:

Did you make any close friends while you were in the Navy?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Yes, I did. But after I got discharged a couple of them stopped to see me, I was living in Pacific Beach, and a couple came to see me, but three or four months later, and that was the last I saw them.

Carl Cox:

Do you belong to any Veterans Organizations?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Yes.

Carl Cox:

What are they?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

The VFW and Pearl Harbor Survivors Association.

Carl Cox:

During the war, can you tell me your most profound experience?

Raymond Barron Chavez:

They are all about the same except for one. And I never will forget that. It's when we were going to invade the Philippine Islands. Like I said before, we were under the command of Chester W. Nimitz, he was Admiral of the Fleet, Fleet Admiral. And we were coming from the States going to meet Douglas MacArthur at a certain point in the Pacific. And he was coming from the South, from Australia, New Zealand, and points from around the Solomon Islands. And my biggest thought was reminds me of, I was really glad I was in that Invasion. Just because it was so big and I was doing my part and, and maybe it wasn't very much, but I, I was there. That was, I was really, really glad that I was in it. I was normal.

Carl Cox:

Mr. Chavez, I would like to thank you for participating in the Veterans History Project and I would like to thank you for dedicated service to our country.

Raymond Barron Chavez:

Thank you. Thank you.

 
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  October 26, 2011
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