Thursday, March 1, 2018

Veteran Voices: James Downing from Vista de Monte Retirement Community


By James Downing, resident at Vista del Monte Retirement Community

My name is James, and my highest rank was First Lieutenant. I served in this position at Ft. Lewis, Washington, in the Ninth Infantry. I enlisted because the Korean War was being fought and my preference was to go into the Army. I believed this was my duty, since we were at war.

At the time that I enlisted, I was married to my wife, Marguerite, and I was working as a sixth-grade teacher in the Torrance Unified School District, in Los Angeles County. I left my wife and traveled by train to Fort Ord, California, for Basic Training. What I remember the most is that I was very lonely for Marguerite, and any leave time that I had, I spent with her.

After six months of Basic Training, I was selected to be the outstanding soldier of my training company. My first assignment was as an instructor at leadership school. After two months in that role, I was ordered to the Officer Candidate School at Fort Benning, Georgia, and I trained for six months there.

I served the remainder of my service as Assistant Adjutant Officer assigned to the Ninth Infantry Regiment at Ft. Lewis in Washington. My duties included Courts & Boards, Safety, and Personnel. Although I did not see any combat, half the men in my training company went to Korea, and 50% of these did not return alive. I still feel guilty that so many of the men I knew became casualties, but I served elsewhere.

My commanding officer, a Colonel, was outstanding and a wonderful officer; however, my immediate superior, a Major, was the worst. Upon leaving the military, I resumed teaching and was assigned to the ninth grade at Torrance High. I did graduate work at UCLA, where I received my Master of Arts, and I went on to teach at Lincoln Junior High School in Santa Monica, California.”


LifeBio is an engagement program that captures cherished memories and lasting legacies through storytelling. Since launching in 2000, LifeBio has helped 20,000 people tell their life stories through autobiographical tools and services for all levels of care. LifeBio uses technologies as mediums to help individual document their stories in an easy and unique way such as tablets, web cams, and audio and video equipment. LifeBio has been a partner with Front Porch since 2009. For more details, check out LifeBio’s Impact Story on the Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing (FPCIW) website.

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