Richard F. (Dick) Downey
Lt. Col., USAF (retired)

Father of the 449th Bombardment Group Association


Dick married his high school sweetheart in December, 1938. He got in two years of college before enlisting in the Av/Cadet program. He was assigned as the navigator on Ketring’s crew which arrived in Grottaglie in September, 1944. Dick completed 42 combat missions by the end of April, 1945. On twelve of these missions he was the lead navigator.

Upon returning to the US, he participated in the B-32 Dominator training until the program was cancelled. He was then assigned as liaison at Jefferson Barracks, MO and later at Ft. Lewis, WA. Dick received a regular army commission in June 1946.

Continuing in service as a career officer, he flew B-29s (Radar); B-50As (Atomic Weaponeer) [Sandia Base, NM]; B-36s for 7 years; B-52Gs. He then served a three year tour with the RAF Thor Missile program.

Upon returning to the US he flew with a KC-135 wing. Dick was one of the first SAC navigators to become “Combat Qualified” in all three categories: Bombers — Missiles — Tankers. He received his Master Navigator rating wings in March, 1959. Dick voluntarily retired when his wife began cancer treatments. He was employed for nineteen years as an analyst at DMAAC (Aero mapping service) until his retirement in December, 1982.

It was during 1982 that Dick instigated the beginning of the 449th Bombardment Group Association. He chaired the first five reunions and served as the Association Secretary for the next twenty years. Dick also served as the Association’s aircraft historian compiling the BGA’s collection of plane histories and nose art photographs. He spent many hours tracing down new names for membership in the BGA, and on composition and editing of newsletter articles for the past 20 years. He survived several serious illnesses and surgeries while continuing his service as the 449th BGA secretary. His other activities included the Sons of the American Revolution, Church Deacon and Choir member, the Gideon Society and service in several other nonprofit organizations. He and Harriet were married in October 1985. Dick passed away July 1, 2004 after a heart attack at his home in St Louis.

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