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Pearl Harbor survivor

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Navy Lt. Jim Downing, a Pearl Harbor attack survivor who will be 104 years old in August, will retell his story at the Base Exchange, Peterson Air Force Base, Colorado May 13, 2017.
The Colorado Springs resident is the second oldest known survivor of the Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. Events that day killed more than 2,400 Americans and sunk or damaged 19 U.S. Navy ships according to the National World War II Museum.
Downing was a gunner’s mate 1st class and postmaster, assigned to the USS West Virginia. The battleship just returned to base after more than a week on patrol when the Japanese attacked.
His wife, Morena, was cooking Sunday morning breakfast for him and a few shipmates when they heard explosions down at the harbor. With no time to spare, Downing and his shipmates jumped in a truck and rushed to to see what was happening.
When they arrived, Downing couldn’t believe what had transpired.
“I ran to my ship and it was sinking,” Downing said. “It had been struck by nine torpedoes and was in flames.”
For Downing, the events of Pearl Harbor were not just a matter of the attack and military response. He remembered the names from dog tags of those killed or injured on his ship that day and made it his duty to contact their families.
Downing retired from the Navy in 1956, after almost 25 years of service, and was an invited guest at former president Barack Obama’s State of the Union address in 2015.

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