John Leslie Downing

Private First Class
Army of the United States
03 January 1949 - 05 May 1968
Phoenix, Arizona
Panel 55E Line 009

Purple Heart, National Defense, Vietnam Service, Vietnam Campaign

The database page for John Leslie Downing

22 Oct 2001

Downing, we didn't like each other very much, did we? We fought like crazy. Remember that night we got drunk and beat on each other outside the Battalion C.O'.s hootch? You wouldn't listen to me about hand grenades in the truck. You had to be John Wayne and I had to play sergeant. As convoy co-drivers went, though, you were never drunk or stoned on the job. I would not have put up with that crap, would I? You were never afraid, either.

The day you and Henesy died was your first day behind the wheel because I needed a break. I told the C.O. you weren't ready, that we should wait a day and I would be ready again. I knew something was wrong that day and told the C.O. that. He told me you would be OK.

As I watched the hills leaving Kontum and saw the smoke I knew it wasn't going to be OK ever again.

Eight guys died that day, cut out of the middle of that convoy where I told you not to be, and you by a grenade, they said. If you had only listened or had I only known how to command.

Two days later when I made the run again and saw my old truck and the bodies of all the NVA around it I knew you two didn't go alone.

That day in Monterey when I first saw the Traveling Wall I sat frozen fifty feet from it, unable to move, my wife and little girl holding my hands as the tears streamed down my face. I knew I couldn't move those final few steps. My buddy, Wayne (a HUEY crew chief from the 4th Inf Div just down the road from us in Kontum) put his arm around me and we walked those last few feet.

God bless and keep you always, John L. Downey, you are forever in my heart.

SP/5 Allan Evans

A Note from The Virtual Wall

The eight soldiers who died in the convoy ambush were
  • C Co, 43rd Sig Bn, 21st Sig Grp
    • SP4 Harold T. Henesy, St Petersburg, FL
    • PFC John L. Downing, Phoenix, AZ
    • PFC Larry D. Williams, Minneapolis, MN

  • 563rd Trans Co, 124th Trans Bn, 8th Trans Grp
    • SP4 Jerry A. Wyman, Livonia, MI

  • 64th Trans Co, 124th Trans Bn, 8th Trans Grp
  • 88th Trans Co, 124th Trans Bn, 8th Trans Grp
  • D Co, 299th Eng Bn, 937th Eng Grp
    • SP4 William J. Safrit, South Bend, IN
    • SP4 Tommy L. Shehorn, Decatur, IL

The point-of-contact for this memorial is
a fellow Company member,
Allan Evans
22 Oct 2001

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With all respect
Jim Schueckler, former CW2, US Army
Ken Davis, Commander, United States Navy (Ret)
Last updated 11/23/2005