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Jesse Dale Downs

Caldwell, Idaho -
Korean War Veteran of the United States Army

"We came back on a converted Liberty Ship. I would have felt better in a leaky canoe and a broken paddle, but we made it."

- Jesse Dale Downs

 


[Following the death of his father, Greg Downs sent the following short memoir of Jesse's military service during the Korean War.  Greg told the KWE that his father wanted some of his history to live on.]

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A Short Memoir by Cpl. Jesse D. Downs

I, Jesse D. Downs entered the army on October 24, 1950, at Boise, Idaho. I traveled by troop train from Boise to Ft. Riley, Kansas. After a few days we went to Camp Atterbury, Indiana, where I went through basic training with the 28th Infantry Division. It was not a fun place to be--too cold there in the winter.

About the middle of September 1951 I received orders to report to Fort Lewis with a two-week delay en-route at home. After arriving at Fort Lewis we prepared to load aboard the troop ship USS General Meigs. After breakfast of beans with the Navy, about 3500 of us and 2500 troops from the Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry (Canadian PPCLI) loaded onboard and we sailed toward Japan.

Nine days and one hurricane later, we docked at Yokohama, Japan, and traveled by train to Camp Drake just outside of Tokyo. While traveling through Japan I got to see part of Mt. Fuji sticking out of the clouds and the remains of Hiroshima. From Camp Drake we went on to Sasebo (a sea port on the southern edge of Japan), where we boarded the Congo Maru, a Japanese luxury liner that took us across the Sea of Japan to Pusan, Korea.

From there we on by train to Taejon (where General Dean lost his division and was captured).  We then went on to the 171st Evacuation Hospital, where I spent the next year as an engineer. My official title was Utilities NCO. I was in charge of all utilities for pre-fabricated buildings, Quonset huts, and hospital maintenance. I supervised 15 to 20 Korean carpenters.  Lee Soon Ki was my head honcho.  I think he was paid $28 a month--pretty good pay for them.  Their food staple was kimchi, which was made with fermented cabbage and what else I really didn't want to know. The Koreans did not have any motor vehicles.  Everything was carried on their backs on a A-frame There was an occasional two-wheeled cart pulled by a donkey.

My stay in Korea ended about September 20, 1952.  I went back to Sasebo to come home. I left Korea with corporal stripes. a Korean Service medal with two battle stars, the United Nations Service medal, a Commendation medal, and an overseas bar. We came back on a converted Liberty Ship. (I would have felt better in a leaky canoe and a broken paddle, bbut we made it.)  The trip home took 14 days.  I was on KP (kitchen patrol) every third day. Fire boats greeted us as we came into Seattle Harbor.  They circled us and shot water into the air. We debarked and went to Fort Lewis for separation. I was transferred to ready reserve on October 15, and discharged September 11, 1956.  This is my story.

Jesse D. Downs, Cpl., US56093455


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Obituary

Jesse Dale Downs age 92, died at Home in Caldwell, Idaho, on Friday, May 7, 2021  He was born on August 31, 1928 in Baca County, Colorado, a son of Jesse and Cora Downs. He was the fourth of six children. When he was a small child his family moved to Idaho, where he lived most of his life.

He entered the army in October of 1950, and served as an engineer with the 171st Evacuation Hospital in Korea  After leaving the army he married his best friend and love of his life, Geneith Joy Eells. They made their home in Caldwell, Idaho.  From this union they were blessed with five children. He worked as a carpenter and handyman for many years.

He enjoyed many hobbies like rock-hounding and woodworking. His greatest joy was traveling with his wife. He loved his family, children, grand and great grandchildren. He is survived by his daughter-in-law Darla Downs of Marsing, Idaho; sons Brian (Becky) Downs and Greg (Shelly) Downs, both of Caldwell; daughters Christine and Lora Downs of Caldwell, five grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, brothers Austin and Gene, sisters Mona, Juanita and Wilma; his wife Geneith; son Dan Downs; and two grandchildren Jay Downs and Stephanie Sevy.

He was a shining example to all who knew him and he will be missed greatly.

 

 

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