PFC D.F. "Mort" Downing
19th Infantry, 24th Division, 1st. Bn.,
Co. C, Third Platoon, 4th Squad,
KIA 13 June, 1945, mandog Hill
-- Doris Downing Miller --
My father, D.F. Downing, was born Nov. 4, 1922 in Warsaw, Missouri, the son of Jonas
and Alda Ferguson Downing. He was nicknamed "Mort" after the St. Louis Cardinal pitcher,
Mort Cooper, who won the World Series in 1944.
He was the youngest of three sons. By the age of 16 he owned over 200 acres of farm land
in Downing Bend, Missouri. The area was established by his family in the 1830s. He
was an avid farmer, hunter and baseball player. He could shoot the eye out of a squirrel
from quite a distance.
He married my mother in 1940 and they had three children, my sister, Meredith Ann Downing Mesch,
me, Doris Downing Miller, and my little brother, Wayne Dean Downing, who died just a few months
before my father, 2-18-45.
By 1944 my father owned over a 1,000 acres of farm land, was asthmatic, and had three children
uder the age of five. He volunteered to be drafted. He was drafted 7/12/44, reported to Ft.
Leavenworth, Kansas. He had 18 weeks of basic training at Camp Wolters, Texas. During this time
my little brother, Dean, was in and out of hospitals with an unknown disease. My father had a
10 day furlough around Nov. 18, 1944 but spent it in the hospital with Dean in Kansas City.
He was then sent to Fort Ord, California and left San Francisco Dec. 31, 1944. The Red Cross
finally tried to delay his departure but missed him by about nine hours as my brother was not
expected to live.
Thanks to my mother, she had saved all of my father's letters. Sometimes he would write two to
three times a day. My mother died in 1990 and I now have my father's letters and I am in the
process of writing a book using his letters and stories from friends. Hopefully the book will be
finished in 2000.
From the letters, talking with men that were with my father, and research by Jack Forgy I now
know that my father was killed by friendly fire. More specifically, a man in his own squad.
The man, "Goose," was shooting at another man, missed him and killed my father instantly. We
were always told that he was killed by a Japanese sniper.
My father, a machine gunner, was killed in the battle of Mindanao just 17 days before the battle
was declared over, June 30, 1945.
To continue his memory, I named my first born, Christopher Downing Miller and my son named his
first born, Cale Downing Miller.
Someday I hope to travel to Manila to view my father's gravesite. Thanks to Marilyn Jensen, an
AWON member, she sent me photographs of the gravesite.
In his memory,