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Second Team

Downing's personal journal account shares his missions as a young U.S. Army combat helicopter pilot, flying Chinooks and Slicks, during the Vietnam War. Chief Warrant Officer Downing was a replacement pilot for the "The Second Team" that arrived in 1966 in the 1st Cavalry Division. His superiors trusted his judgment and tactical ability while his aircrews trusted his high level of skill and concern for their safety. He earned the nickname “Tiger” for volunteering for difficult and hazardous missions, when others would not. Downing was awarded two Distinguished Flying Crosses, the Bronze Star Medal and 21 Air Medals for his commitment and displays of valor.

In this emotionally intense personal narrative, Downing describes his grief-stricken loss of friends, the tragic mishaps of war, along with humor, heroic acts of bravery, and the Providence he personally experienced as a man of great faith in God. 

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Some traumatic events turn out to be Providential. James Downing grew up in Florida as a Southern boy who loved aviation. At the young age of 11, he narrowly escaped a fiery death in a terrifying traffic accident. This experience prepared him for what he would face, many years later, in Vietnam. 


Duty, Honor, Country: Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They were your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn

General Douglas MacArthur

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