Oldest Known Surviving Pearl Harbor Hero Will Join Bennet at State of the Union

Colorado Springs resident Lt. Jim Downing USN (Ret.) helped rescue wounded during the deadly attack

Denver, CO - Colorado U.S. Senator Michael Bennet will be joined at the 2015 State of the Union next week by Lt. Jim Downing USN (Ret.), the oldest known surviving veteran from the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

Lt. Downing, a resident of Colorado Springs who turned 101 last year, enlisted in the U.S. Navy in September of 1932 and was assigned to the USS West Virginia. Lt. Downing helped fight fires aboard the USS West Virginia and rescued men from his ship during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Throughout the attacks he took note to remember names of the crew who had died so he could contact their families. Lt. Downing served in the Navy for 24 years and during the Korean War commanded the USS Patapsco. He also acted as an advisor to the Brazilian Fleet in Rio de Janeiro and later became an assistant professor of Naval Science at the Merchant Marine Academy in New York. U.S. Representative Doug Lamborn submitted a tribute to Lt. Downing into the Congressional Record in 2013.

Marobeth Downing, Lt. Downing's daughter, will escort her father on the trip to Washington and during the President's address. Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii offered his office's lone guest ticket to Marobeth, allowing her to join her father at the speech.

"Lt. Downing is a hero who has lived an incredible life. Our nation is indebted to him and his fellow sailors for their service in defense of our country, " Bennet said. "Inviting him to attend the State of the Union is one small act we can make to help honor him and the men and women who served during the attack on Pearl Harbor. We are incredibly grateful to Senator Schatz for graciously donating his ticket to Marobeth so that she would be able to escort Lt. Downing."

"I am excited for the opportunity to attend the State of the Union address and look forward to the visit to the Capitol," Lt. Downing said. "My daughter and I are particularly thankful to Senators Bennet and Schatz for making attendance at this event possible."

Lt. Downing retired from the U.S. Navy in 1956 and currently works for The Navigators, a Christian outreach organization in Colorado Springs, sharing life lessons and spiritual insights with young and old. He remains rich with patriotism and believes that the United States must remain vigilant and work together to strengthen the nation at home and abroad, "Having experienced the tragedy of inadequate preparedness, my exhortation to the present and future generations is: weakness invites aggression - remember pearl harbor - keep America strong."

The attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 carried out by the Imperial Japanese Navy was a surprise attack that killed more than 2,000 Americans. In 1994, Congress designated December 7 of each year as Pearl Harbor Day to commemorate and honor those who died.

# # #