The Second Oldest Survivor of Pearl Harbor gets honored on Independence Day

Lieutenant Jim Downing

The Fourth of July Parade in Coronado was attended by people from across the city to celebrate the United States’ Independence Day. One of the major visitors at the event was the second-oldest survivor of the Pearl Harbor. Lieutenant Jim Downing, was among the few soldiers who survived the Pearl Harbor attack that occurred on December 7, 1941, and he is currently 103 years old. The soldier was celebrated at the Coronado parade. During the time of the attack, Lt. Downing lived at the base’s married quarters with his wife. The military strike occurred when he was in his house, and he had to drive to his ship to assist his fellow soldier fight the Japanese. When Jim reached the harbor, it had been destroyed, and he could not access his ship. He was forced to board the USS Tennessee and went through its gun barrel for him to reach the deck of his ship. The lieutenant was in charge of USS West Virginia.

Lieutenant Jim Downing’s ship was attacked by the Japanese and hit by nine torpedoes that made it catch fire. USS West Virginia had many ammunitions aboard, and therefore, Jim had to put off the fire to avoid more explosions. As the soldier was trying to fight the fire, he noticed several bodies of fallen sailors in the deck. He had to get close to the dead to memorize the names that were on their tags so that he could inform their families about the tragedy. The retired lieutenant believes that his fellow sailors died as heroes.

The U.S Navy managed to put off the fire on the USS West Virginia and Lt. Downing went to the hospital to visit soldiers who had been burned during the attacks. He carried along a pen and a pencil to take messages from the injured so that he could send them to their families. Most of the sailors who had sustained severe burns passed on that night, but Jim managed to send their last word’s home. Lt. Downing has traveled to several places in California and the rest of the United States where he talks to people about his experience in the military. The places that he has visited include schools, military bases, businesses, and many others. The Guinness Book of World Records seeks to list Jim Downing as the oldest living male author. He has written a book that is called ‘The Other Side of Infamy, ’ and it was published in November 2016.

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