(COLORADO SPRINGS) – Lt. Jim Downing died Tuesday, February 13th in Colorado Springs, surrounded by his family. He was known as a philanthropist, author, ministry leader and the second oldest survivor of the Pearl Harbor attack on Dec. 7, 1941.
He is survived by six children, nine grandchildren, and 10 great-grandchildren.
Downing lived a full life, dedicated to service. “I’ve led a very adventurous life,” he stated in a previous interview.
Downing started his life of service at the age of 19 when he joined the Navy. A few years later, he nearly lost his life during the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor while serving aboard the USS West Virginia.
“So then the war became very personal,” recalled Downing.
While under enemy attack he memorized the names of the fallen and wrote home to their parents letting them know their sons died as heroes. After the attack he took down the last words of wounded sailors and sent them home to their parents.
His naval career culminated with him becoming the commanding officer of the USS Patapsco from 1952 until 1955.
And to his final days the event continued to have great meaning for this World War II hero. “What Pearl Harbor means to me now is that we must remain so strong that no country will even think about attacking us.”
After 24 years in the Navy, Downing retired and decided to continue his life of service through Christian ministry with The Navigators ministry.
He held a number of roles with the ministry as a supervisor, Military ministry director, treasurer, and headquarters manager.
Even until the very end Downing continued to serve. In 2017 continuing his long held tradition of donating cash to those in need on Christmas Day. Downing started that tradition after his wife passed away in 2010. Those at the RJ Montgomery Shelter shelter said his donations helped people there buy groceries and other necessities.
“I hope this is an example and that others will catch on,” he commented.
It’s very easy to say he made an impression wherever he went. And all those years ago at Pearl Harbor, when Downing first faced death, he had this to say.
“I had real peace of mind that if I left this earth I would be in a better place.”
And there’s no doubt that still rings true.