VFW Magazine November 2017 : Page 42
PEARL HARBOR SURVIVOR SAYS SAILORS ‘DID THEIR JOBS’ 76 YEARS AGO BY DAVE SPIVA THE SECOND-OLDEST KNOWN LIVING PEARL HARBOR SURVIVOR VISITED VFW NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS EARLIER THIS YEAR TO PROMOTE HIS LATEST BOOK. HE ALSO WAS HONORED BY VFW FOR HIS 24 YEARS OF MILITARY SERVICE. A PHOTOS COURTESY OF JIM DOWNING TOP: Jim Downing as an enlisted sailor during the era of the Pearl Harbor attack. He was stationed aboard the USS West Virginia during the attack on Dec. 7, 1941. ABOVE: Jim Downing, the now-104-year-old retired Navy lieutenant, shows his book, The Other Side of Infamy , on Memorial Day in Washington, D.C. He visited the nation’s capital during a summer promotional tour for his third book. uthor and retired Navy lieutenant Jim Downing visited Kansas City, Mo., in May as part of a book tour for his third book, The Other Side of Infamy . At 104 years old, Downing is the second old-est known living Pearl Harbor survivor, with the oldest being 105-year-old Ray Chavez of Poway, Calif. Downing, of Colorado Springs, Colo., was stationed on the battleship USS West Virginia as an enlisted sailor during the Pearl Harbor attack. Downing also was a gunnery officer on the USS San Carlos and USS Nespelen . He served as the commanding officer of the USS Patapsco during the Korean War, too. Downing fought in and survived the Pearl Harbor attack on Dec. 7, 1941. While in Kansas City, Downing visited VFW National Headquarters and spoke to VFW staff mem-bers and guests about one of the largest attacks on American soil. “Our men fought that day without any con-sideration of their own lives,” Downing said. “They did their jobs, many without training — but they did the right thing. “Only a few were decorated, but I say that if the Department of Defense decorated all the heroes that deserve it, [DoD] would have had to buy a copper mine in Utah and a cotton field in Texas to mold the medals and weave the ribbons that all our heroes deserve,” he added. During his visit, Downing promoted his latest book, The Other Side of Infamy . He spoke about his 24 years of Navy service dur-ing WWII and the Korean War, as well as his upbringing in Plevna, Mo. Downing also dis-cussed today’s Navy in comparison to the ser-vice during his tenure. “All of it runs on technology now — satellites and radars,” Downing said. “It’s a lot different from when I was in. But, the camaraderie still exists.” While at national headquarters, Downing became a VFW life member and was presented his member card during a cer-emony. Downing also received a certificate of recognition from VFW Quartermaster General Debra Anderson in appreciation of his 24 years of Navy service. “I feel I don’t deserve it, but I will accept the honor on behalf of all veterans,” Downing said. J EMAIL firstname.lastname@example.org The Other Side of Infamy: My Journey through Pearl Harbor and the World of War by Jim Downing with James Lund is fea-tured in this issue’s Book Corner on p. 52. 42 • VFW • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2017
Pearl Harbor’s Second Oldest Vet
THE SECOND-OLDEST KNOWN LIVING PEARL HARBOR SURVIVOR VISITED VFW NATIONAL HEADQUARTERS EARLIER THIS YEAR TO PROMOTE HIS LATEST BOOK. HE ALSO WAS HONORED BY VFW FOR HIS 24 YEARS OF MILITARY SERVICE.