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Box by the sea

Employee arranges honor for veteran’s birthday

Oldest known Pearl Harbor survivor Raymond Chavez
Raymond Chavez displays some of the mail he has received in honor of his 105th birthday. The inset photo shows Max Raizada, the PO Box manager for Retail and Customer Service Operations who arranged a special honor for Chavez.

When Max Raizada learned USPS had an opportunity to honor the oldest known Pearl Harbor survivor, the PO Box program manager jumped at the chance.

Raymond Chavez was working on the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, when Japanese fighter planes attacked.

To mark the survivor’s recent 105th birthday, the Spirit of Liberty Foundation, a group that honors veterans, asked USPS to locate a PO Box 105 to receive his cards.

Officials were hoping for a box near Chavez’s home in San Diego.

Raizada, who is part of Retail and Customer Service Operations, found 119 Post Offices in California with the box number, but most were already in use.

Then he located an available box at the Cardiff By the Sea Post Office, about 24 miles from Chavez.

Raizada felt the town’s name was a fitting tribute to the Navy veteran’s service and arranged for the foundation to rent the box.

Since receiving PO Box 105 in March, Chavez has received more than 1,000 birthday letters and cards from well-wishers, including four former presidents. He also received an autographed book from Tom Brokaw.

The Pearl Harbor survivor remains humble.

“I didn’t do that much,” he said. “I just did my job, and I’ve gotten old.”

Raizada was happy to help.

“Most of us don’t get a chance to honor our veterans personally,” he said. “Honoring our veterans is a matter of pride to me.”

Employees who wish to send a card can mail it to: Ray Chavez, PO Box 105, Cardiff By the Sea, CA 92007.

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