Sequoyah J. Downing never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.
He was born on May 27, 1918 in Oklahoma. His parents Joel and Betsy were also both born in Oklahoma. Both parents were of Cherokee descent. His father worked as a farmer and later as a court clerk. He died sometime in the 1930s. Sequoyah had two older sisters, three younger brothers, and four younger sisters. He was an Oklahoma Golden Gloves boxing champion. He married Cora Thornton in August 1938.
Sequoyah volunteered for the Army on April 25, 1942 and selected to serve in the Army Air Forces. He became a staff sergeant in the 64th Bombardment Squadron, 43rd Bombardment Group which was equipped first with B-17s and later with B-24s, which could cover the longer distances needed in the Pacific. The 43rd BG was sent to Australia in February 1942 and later operated out of New Guinea. Sgt. Downing was trained as a gunner.
On October 18, 1943 Sgt. Downing was one of the gunners on the B-24 Ben Buzzard. It was part of a bombing mission to hit Rabaul. The bomber ran into bad weather and turned back. It ran out of fuel before reaching its base at Port Moresby and ditched in Bootless Bay. Sgt. Downing and six others drowned, but four of the crew were rescued.
His grave is at Hogan Cemetery in Locust Grove, Oklahoma. I don't know what happened to his widow.
Last year on this date I profiled Hellcat fighter pilot Robert Stimson. You can read about Robert here.
On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!
I created this video to explain why I started this project: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vXt8QA481lY.
Please consider joining the public Facebook group to increase the exposure of this project. Go to: WW2 Fallen 100