Veterans History Project Service Summary:

  • War or Conflict: World War, 1939-1945; Korean War, 1950-1953
  • Branch of Service: Navy
  • Unit of Service: USS West Virginia (BB 48)
  • Location of Service: Washington, DC; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Pacific Theater
  • Highest Rank: Lieutenant

View full service history

"The war became pretty personal at that point…"(Video interview, 24:58)

As postmaster aboard the USS West Virginia, James Downing knew his shipmates well--and had access to their addresses. In Honolulu when the first wave of the attack began, he rushed to the harbor and boarded the West Virginia. Surveying his wounded comrades on the sinking ship, he did his best to memorize their names, so that he could write to their parents and describe what had happened. Later in the day, he headed to the hospital, where he walked up and down the rows of beds, collecting names and brief messages from burn victims to send to their families.

About this Item

Title

  • James Willis Downing Collection

Names

  • Johnson, Alex
  • Downing, James Willis

State of Birth

  • MO

Home State

  • CO

Headings

  • -  Downing, James Willis
  • -  World War, 1939-1945 -- Personal Narratives
  • -  United States. Navy.
  • -  Korean War, 1950-1953 -- Personal Narratives
  • -  United States. Navy.

Form

  • DVD

Extent

  • 1 item

Repository

  • Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Gender

  • Male

Status

  • Veteran

Service History

  • World War, 1939-1945

    • Branch of Service: Navy
    • Unit of Service: USS West Virginia (BB 48)
    • Location of Service: Washington, DC; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Pacific Theater
    • Highest Rank: Lieutenant
    • Dates of Service: 1932-1956
    • Entrance into Service: Enlisted
    • Military Status: Veteran
  • Korean War, 1950-1953

    • Branch of Service: Navy
    • Dates of Service: 1932-1956
    • Entrance into Service: Commissioned
    • Military Status: Veteran

Materials

  • Video: DVD [1 item] -- Oral history interview (collected 04/18/2009)

Collection Number

  • AFC/2001/001/66571

Cite as

  • James Willis Downing Collection (AFC/2001/001/66571), Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Online Format

  • image
  • video

Additional Metadata Formats

Rights & Access

Using VHP Material in Publication or Exhibition

The Veterans History Project (VHP) at the Library of Congress collects, preserves and makes accessible the firsthand recollections of U.S. military veterans who served from World War I through more recent conflicts and peacekeeping missions, so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand what they saw, did and felt during their service. The Veterans History Project Collection includes oral histories along with documentary materials such as original letters, diaries, photographs, and memoirs.

Veterans and interviewers contribute these materials to the Library for scholarly and educational purposes, retaining any copyright they may hold. Therefore, permission must be obtained before using the interview or other materials in exhibition or publication. Researchers or others who would like to make further use of these materials should contact the Veterans History Project for assistance.

As a publicly supported institution, the Library generally does not own rights to material in its collections. Therefore, it does not charge permission fees for use of such material and cannot give or deny permission to publish or otherwise distribute material in its collections. Responsibility for making an independent legal assessment of an item from the Library’s collections and for securing any necessary permissions rests with persons desiring to use the item.

Please contact us with questions.

Obtaining Copies of VHP Materials

In order for VHP materials to be duplicated, we must receive written permission from the interviewee for you to obtain a copy of the recording unless the proposed use is limited to personal use, research, or other uses permissible by copyright law. If the interviewee is deceased, their next-of-kin may grant written permission.

Please contact VHP for assistance if you need to contact a veteran for permission to use their materials in exhibition or publication, or if you have received permission from the veteran and need access to high-resolution copies of VHP collection materials.

Citing VHP Materials

Please use the following formats when citing Veterans History Project materials (substituting the appropriate name and collection ID number).

Materials as a whole:

  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Manuscript material:

  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Memoirs (MS02), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Transcript (MS04), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Correspondence (MS01), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Recording:

  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Audio recording (SR01), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Video recording (MV01), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Photograph:

  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Photographs (PH01), photographer unknown, Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.
  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Photographs (PH03-PH14), Ralph Williams photographer, Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Computer file:

  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Computer file (CF01), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Artifact:

  • John P. Snodgrass (AFC 2001/001/xxxx), Artifact (AR01), Veterans History Project Collection, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.

Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

Johnson, Alex, and James Willis Downing. James Willis Downing Collection. 1932. Personal Narrative. https://www.loc.gov/item/afc2001001.66571/.

APA citation style:

Johnson, A. & Downing, J. W. (1932) James Willis Downing Collection. [Personal Narrative] Retrieved from the Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/afc2001001.66571/.

MLA citation style:

Johnson, Alex, and James Willis Downing. James Willis Downing Collection. 1932. Personal Narrative. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <www.loc.gov/item/afc2001001.66571/>.