103-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor visits Columbia

1 year 3 weeks 5 days ago Monday, April 24 2017 Apr 24, 2017 Monday, April 24, 2017 11:07:00 PM CDT April 24, 2017 in News
By: Emily McCarter, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - As the second oldest survivor of the Dec. 7, 1941 Pearl Harbor attack, Lieutenant Jim Downing is reminding Columbia to "keep America strong".

103-year-old Downing said Pearl Harbor impacted his entire life. 

"The first thing was total surprise, we had no warning whatsoever," Downing said.

He said this emotion was followed by fear and then pride during the surprise Japanese bombing.

"Our men responded without leadership, without training, everybody instinctively did the right thing," he said. "Everybody was a hero that morning."

Larry Glabe works with Downing as he travels across the country to share his story. He said it is an honor to do so.

"Jim is in Columbia on a speaking and book signing tour," Glabe said. "He joined the Navy out of high school and served on the battleship the USS West Virginia."

The West Virginia was sunk by torpedos and bombs during the attack - it was later salvaged and took part in the Pacific campaign during World War II. Downing said 105 men were killed on his ship on December 7.

"Why them?" he asked. "Why not me? Why was I spared? But I was thankful I was."

Downing attributes his survival to his strong belief in God. He said faith is a very important part of his life.

"While I was under attack, I had a great peace thinking I was going to be in the Lord's presence," Downing said. "I think God has some things for me to do, and that's the reason he spared me. I felt that God has guided me every step of my life."

Downing said after the attack, he spent his time collecting some of the dying men's information so he could write a letter to their parents. 

"I took a notebook and went up and down the line, and said 'If you give me your parents' name and address and dictate a paragraph, I'll get it to them," Downing said.

Downing said he received many letters from some of those parents thanking him.

Downing has two upcoming events that are free and open to the public. He is speaking at the MU School of Nursing Auditorium at 5 p.m. Tuesday and will make an appearance at the "Honor Heroes" event at Centralia High School at 7 pm. Wednesday.

"I hope they remember me as a patriot for our country," Downing said. "And that as a Christian, I helped other people to find the faith that I have."

In 1986, 45 years after the Pearl Harbor attack, President Reagan coined a phrase Downing said he has chosen to live by: "weakness invites aggression."

Downing said he thinks the lessons Americans have learned from Pearl Harbor is to always be alert. He said he feels an obligation to talk to them about the event.

"You're the leaders, you're the tax payers, you're the voters, you're the legislators," Downing said. "Remember, keep America strong."

 

More News

Grid
List
POPLAR BLUFF (AP) — Authorities say a man's body was found in southeast Missouri and the case appears to... More >>
1 hour ago Monday, May 21 2018 May 21, 2018 Monday, May 21, 2018 8:48:00 AM CDT May 21, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – With a new terminal on the way, comes more possible changes to Columbia Regional Airport. A public... More >>
2 hours ago Monday, May 21 2018 May 21, 2018 Monday, May 21, 2018 7:55:00 AM CDT May 21, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – The MU Board of Curators will vote and set the tuition Monday for the 2019-2020 school year. ... More >>
3 hours ago Monday, May 21 2018 May 21, 2018 Monday, May 21, 2018 7:01:00 AM CDT May 21, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA – The Columbia City Council will address an ordinance Monday on whether to approve of a special August election... More >>
7 hours ago Monday, May 21 2018 May 21, 2018 Monday, May 21, 2018 2:41:00 AM CDT May 21, 2018 in News
MARSHALL - A standoff between Marshall police and an armed man ended without injury. According to a news release,... More >>
12 hours ago Sunday, May 20 2018 May 20, 2018 Sunday, May 20, 2018 9:53:00 PM CDT May 20, 2018 in News
ROCHEPORT - The city of Rocheport honored two men on Sunday whose legacy has stretched across the state of Missouri.... More >>
15 hours ago Sunday, May 20 2018 May 20, 2018 Sunday, May 20, 2018 7:09:00 PM CDT May 20, 2018 in News
AUXVASSE - Gov. Eric Greitens spoke at the 16th annual Fire Fighters Memorial Service on Sunday. The service was... More >>
18 hours ago Sunday, May 20 2018 May 20, 2018 Sunday, May 20, 2018 4:05:00 PM CDT May 20, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - The Missouri State Highway Patrol is taking to social media to spread awareness of National Safe Boating Week... More >>
18 hours ago Sunday, May 20 2018 May 20, 2018 Sunday, May 20, 2018 3:36:00 PM CDT May 20, 2018 in News
FULTON - All 6-year-old Sam Santhuff wanted to do was comfort children in the hospital, even though he was there... More >>
1 day ago Sunday, May 20 2018 May 20, 2018 Sunday, May 20, 2018 6:47:00 AM CDT May 20, 2018 in News
CAMDEN COUNTY - The Missouri State Highway Patrol has released the identities of the three people killed and the two... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 19 2018 May 19, 2018 Saturday, May 19, 2018 6:42:00 PM CDT May 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Children in Columbia have a chance to get paid to play. Columbia Parks and Recreation started its... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 19 2018 May 19, 2018 Saturday, May 19, 2018 6:10:00 PM CDT May 19, 2018 in News
HAVANA (AP) — The Latest on the crash in Cuba of a passenger jet with 113 people on board (all... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 19 2018 May 19, 2018 Saturday, May 19, 2018 5:23:00 PM CDT May 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Over 90 people showed up at the Burr Oak Brewery for an afternoon of puppies, yoga and beer... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 19 2018 May 19, 2018 Saturday, May 19, 2018 4:50:00 PM CDT May 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA - Although it is nowhere near Halloween, some Columbia runners faced their fears by participating in a zombie-themed 5K... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 19 2018 May 19, 2018 Saturday, May 19, 2018 11:12:00 AM CDT May 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA- The city of Columbia has been ranked a top-ten affordable college town to live in by realtor.com. Factors... More >>
1 day ago Saturday, May 19 2018 May 19, 2018 Saturday, May 19, 2018 10:41:00 AM CDT May 19, 2018 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The Mississippi River is above flood stage at several northeast Missouri locations, but forecasters do... More >>
2 days ago Saturday, May 19 2018 May 19, 2018 Saturday, May 19, 2018 9:29:44 AM CDT May 19, 2018 in Continuous News
(CNN) -- And they're married! Britain's Prince Harry and US actress Meghan Markle were wed Saturday at Windsor... More >>
2 days ago Saturday, May 19 2018 May 19, 2018 Saturday, May 19, 2018 7:09:00 AM CDT May 19, 2018 in News
COLUMBIA- The United states is experiencing one of the lowest birth rates in 30 years, according to the Centers for... More >>
2 days ago Friday, May 18 2018 May 18, 2018 Friday, May 18, 2018 9:08:00 PM CDT May 18, 2018 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 68°
11am 73°
12pm 75°
1pm 77°
2pm 77°