RICHARD R. DOWNER, LTJG, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall
Dick Downer '27

Date of birth: December 24, 1904

Date of death: July 29, 1932

Age: 27

Lucky Bag

From the 1927 Lucky Bag:

1927 Downer LB.jpg

Richard Rinaldo Downer

Davenport, Iowa

"Dick" "Bobby" "Kanaki"

DICK, came to us from out where the tall corn grows, but he failed to follow the sterling example of the corn, and consequently is not noted for a gigantic stature. From his early experiences of piloting a canoe on the "Father of Waters" he gained his inspiration and determined that sooner or later he must pilot one of Uncle Sam's "Greyhounds."

Bobby is in every sense a one-woman man. In fact, he has three that he insists on calling the O. A. O. It was partly due to his ardent correspondence with the above-mentioned individuals and partly because of his love of excitement that he decided to take a re-exam in Math Youngster year. However, after putting said exam six feet under, he confidently told us that this form of excitement had no further charm for him.

Dick made his Youngster cruise on the New York and naturally he loves every detail of a Midshipman's cruise, from garbage parties to side cleaning. However, if we all had his inherent good nature and ability to appreciate a good joke, even on himself, we would never have any real cause to worry over any trying situation. He is bound to come up with colors flying sooner or later.

Lacrosse: Class (2); Masqueraders (4).

1927 Downer LB.jpg

Richard Rinaldo Downer

Davenport, Iowa

"Dick" "Bobby" "Kanaki"

DICK, came to us from out where the tall corn grows, but he failed to follow the sterling example of the corn, and consequently is not noted for a gigantic stature. From his early experiences of piloting a canoe on the "Father of Waters" he gained his inspiration and determined that sooner or later he must pilot one of Uncle Sam's "Greyhounds."

Bobby is in every sense a one-woman man. In fact, he has three that he insists on calling the O. A. O. It was partly due to his ardent correspondence with the above-mentioned individuals and partly because of his love of excitement that he decided to take a re-exam in Math Youngster year. However, after putting said exam six feet under, he confidently told us that this form of excitement had no further charm for him.

Dick made his Youngster cruise on the New York and naturally he loves every detail of a Midshipman's cruise, from garbage parties to side cleaning. However, if we all had his inherent good nature and ability to appreciate a good joke, even on himself, we would never have any real cause to worry over any trying situation. He is bound to come up with colors flying sooner or later.

Lacrosse: Class (2); Masqueraders (4).

Loss

Dick was lost on July 29, 1932 when the seaplane he was piloting crashed near Del Mar, California. One of his crew was also killed; three others were rescued.

Other Information

From researcher Kathy Franz:

As a senior at Davenport High School in 1923, Dick was class president and student major of the R.O.T.C. He was president of the athletic association and was in the science club, Hi-Y, and Demo. He was junior class president as well. Under his senior picture was inscribed: "Seeming to promise something wonderous great." He had also served as master chancellor of the DeMolay, junior Masonic organization.

In February 1932, Dick sent a letter to his parents that he was in the upcoming movie "Hell Divers" with Clark Gable and Wallace Berry. Dick was flying one of the planes in a squadron formation. He told his parents not to be alarmed at the plane crashes because he did not take part in any of them.

His father Henry was a school principal in 1910, his mother was Alice, and his sister was Anne. In 1920 his parents were both welfare workers at a local social settlement, and in 1932, his father was head resident at Friendly House, a place for children's after school activities and night classes and clubs for adults. In the 1921 Davenport yearbook, Anne was a sponsor of an R.O.T.C. club known as the O'Neil-Peyton Club.

He earned his wings as naval aviator #3678 on July 28, 1930 as a LTjg.

Photographs

Navy Directories & Officer Registers

The "Register of Commissioned and Warrant Officers of the United States Navy and Marine Corps" was published annually from 1815 through at least the 1970s; it provided rank, command or station, and occasionally billet until the beginning of World War II when command/station was no longer included. Scanned copies were reviewed and data entered from the mid-1840s through 1922, when more-frequent Navy Directories were available.

The Navy Directory was a publication that provided information on the command, billet, and rank of every active and retired naval officer. Single editions have been found online from January 1915 and March 1918, and then from three to six editions per year from 1923 through 1940; the final edition is from April 1941.

The entries in both series of documents are sometimes cryptic and confusing. They are often inconsistent, even within an edition, with the name of commands; this is especially true for aviation squadrons in the 1920s and early 1930s.

Alumni listed at the same command may or may not have had significant interactions; they could have shared a stateroom or workspace, stood many hours of watch together… or, especially at the larger commands, they might not have known each other at all. The information provides the opportunity to draw connections that are otherwise invisible, though, and gives a fuller view of the professional experiences of these alumni in Memorial Hall.

January 1928
Ensign, USS Denver

Others at this command:
April 1928
Ensign, USS Denver

Others at this command:
July 1928
Ensign, USS Denver

Others at this command:
October 1928
Ensign, USS Denver

Others at this command:
January 1929
Ensign, USS Lexington


Others at or embarked at this command:
LT George Cuddihy '18 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 3B)
LTjg Matthias Marple, Jr. '23 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 3B)
LTjg Robert Larson '24 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 3B)
April 1929
Ensign, USS Lexington


Others at or embarked at this command:
LT George Cuddihy '18 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 3B)
LTjg Matthias Marple, Jr. '23 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 3B)
LTjg Robert Larson '24 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 3B)
LTjg Jack DeShazo '25 (Light Bombing Plane Squadron (VB) 1B)
July 1929
Ensign, USS Lexington


Others at or embarked at this command:
LTjg Robert Larson '24 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 3B)
LTjg Charles Signer '26 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 3B)
October 1930
Lieutenant (j.g.), Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 3B, USS Lexington

Others at or embarked at USS Lexington:
LT Harry Brandenburger '21 (USS Lexington)
LT Francis Bridget '21 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 5B)
LT Edwin Crouch '21 (USS Lexington)
LTjg Burton Doggett '24 (USS Lexington)
LTjg Hilan Ebert '26 (USS Lexington)
LTjg Eugene Lindsey '27 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 5B)
ENS William Potts '27 (USS Lexington)
ENS Robert Haven '30 (USS Lexington)
ENS Baylies Clark '30 (USS Lexington)
January 1931
Lieutenant (j.g.), Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 3B, USS Lexington

Others at or embarked at USS Lexington:
LT Harry Brandenburger '21 (USS Lexington)
LT Francis Bridget '21 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 5B)
LT Edwin Crouch '21 (USS Lexington)
LTjg Burton Doggett '24 (USS Lexington)
LTjg Hilan Ebert '26 (USS Lexington)
LTjg Eugene Lindsey '27 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 5B)
ENS Robert Haven '30 (USS Lexington)
ENS Baylies Clark '30 (USS Lexington)
April 1931
Lieutenant (j.g.), Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 3B, USS Lexington

Others at or embarked at USS Lexington:
LT Harry Brandenburger '21 (USS Lexington)
LT James Carney '21 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 2B)
LT Francis Bridget '21 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 5B)
LT Arnold Isbell '21 (Torpedo and Bombing Plane Squadron (VT) 1B)
LT Edwin Crouch '21 (USS Lexington)
LTjg Hilan Ebert '26 (USS Lexington)
LTjg Harold Richards '27 (USS Lexington)
LTjg Elmer Cooper '27 (Torpedo and Bombing Plane Squadron (VT) 1B)
LTjg Robert Winters '27 (Torpedo and Bombing Plane Squadron (VT) 1B)
LTjg Eugene Lindsey '27 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 5B)
ENS John Riggs, Jr. '28 (Torpedo and Bombing Plane Squadron (VT) 1B)
ENS Baylies Clark '30 (USS Lexington)
July 1931
Lieutenant (j.g.), Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 3B, USS Lexington


Others at or embarked at USS Lexington:
LT Harry Brandenburger '21 (USS Lexington)
LT James Carney '21 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 2B)
LT Edwin Crouch '21 (USS Lexington)
LTjg Harold Richards '27 (USS Lexington)
LTjg Elmer Cooper '27 (Torpedo and Bombing Plane Squadron (VT) 1B)
LTjg Robert Winters '27 (Torpedo and Bombing Plane Squadron (VT) 1B)
LTjg Eugene Lindsey '27 (USS Lexington)
ENS John Riggs, Jr. '28 (Torpedo and Bombing Plane Squadron (VT) 1B)
ENS Weldon Hamilton '28 (Torpedo and Bombing Plane Squadron (VT) 1B)
ENS Baylies Clark '30 (USS Lexington)
ENS Cleon Felton '31 (USS Lexington)
ENS Walter Bailey '31 (USS Lexington)
ENS Edward Allen '31 (USS Lexington)
ENS Eugene Lytle, Jr. '31 (USS Lexington)
October 1931
Lieutenant (j.g.), Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 3B, USS Lexington


Others at or embarked at USS Lexington:
LT Harry Brandenburger '21 (USS Lexington)
LT James Carney '21 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 2B)
LT Edwin Crouch '21 (USS Lexington)
LTjg Harold Richards '27 (USS Lexington)
LTjg Elmer Cooper '27 (Torpedo and Bombing Plane Squadron (VT) 1B)
LTjg Robert Winters '27 (Torpedo and Bombing Plane Squadron (VT) 1B)
LTjg Eugene Lindsey '27 (USS Lexington)
LTjg John Riggs, Jr. '28 (Torpedo and Bombing Plane Squadron (VT) 1B)
ENS Henry Twohy '29 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 5B)
ENS Baylies Clark '30 (USS Lexington)
ENS John Craig '30 (USS Lexington)
ENS Cleon Felton '31 (USS Lexington)
ENS Walter Bailey '31 (USS Lexington)
ENS Edward Allen '31 (USS Lexington)
ENS Eugene Lytle, Jr. '31 (USS Lexington)
January 1932
Lieutenant (j.g.), Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 3B, USS Lexington


Others at or embarked at USS Lexington:
LT Harry Brandenburger '21 (USS Lexington)
LT James Carney '21 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 2B)
LT Edwin Crouch '21 (USS Lexington)
1LT Donald Willis '24 (Scouting Squadron 15-M)
LTjg Elmer Cooper '27 (Torpedo and Bombing Plane Squadron (VT) 1B)
LTjg Robert Winters '27 (Torpedo and Bombing Plane Squadron (VT) 1B)
LTjg Eugene Lindsey '27 (USS Lexington)
LTjg John Riggs, Jr. '28 (Torpedo and Bombing Plane Squadron (VT) 1B)
ENS Henry Twohy '29 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 5B)
ENS Baylies Clark '30 (USS Lexington)
ENS John Craig '30 (USS Lexington)
ENS Cleon Felton '31 (USS Lexington)
ENS Walter Bailey '31 (USS Lexington)
ENS Edward Allen '31 (USS Lexington)
ENS Eugene Lytle, Jr. '31 (USS Lexington)
April 1932
Lieutenant (j.g.), Scouting Plane Squadron (VS) 3B, USS Lexington


Others at or embarked at USS Lexington:
LT Harry Brandenburger '21 (USS Lexington)
LT James Carney '21 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 2B)
LT Edwin Crouch '21 (USS Lexington)
1LT Donald Willis '24 (Scouting Squadron 15-M)
LTjg Elmer Cooper '27 (Torpedo and Bombing Plane Squadron (VT) 1B)
LTjg Robert Winters '27 (Torpedo and Bombing Plane Squadron (VT) 1B)
LTjg Eugene Lindsey '27 (USS Lexington)
LTjg John Riggs, Jr. '28 (Torpedo and Bombing Plane Squadron (VT) 1B)
ENS Henry Twohy '29 (Fighting Plane Squadron (VF) 5B)
ENS Baylies Clark '30 (USS Lexington)
ENS John Craig '30 (USS Lexington)
ENS Walter Bailey '31 (USS Lexington)
ENS Eugene Lytle, Jr. '31 (USS Lexington)

Related Articles

Lloyd Greenamyer '29 was also a pilot in the 1932 movie Hell Divers.

Memorial Hall Error

Dick's given name was Richard, but he is listed in Memorial Hall as "DICK R. DOWNER."


Class of 1927

Dick is one of 43 members of the Class of 1927 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of alumni in Memorial Hall.