EL PASO COUNTY, Colo. (KKTV) - The El Paso County Commissioners welcomed in one of America's oldest living Pearl Harbor survivors Tuesday. Jim Downing, 103, joined the board as a proclamation commemorating Pearl Harbor Day was announced.
“The Empire of Japan suddenly and viciously attacked the Pacific Fleet of the United States of America while at Pearl Harbor in the United States’ Territory of Hawaii,” Commissioner Chair Sallie Clark said as she read the proclamation into the record. “December 7, 1941, a date that forever ‘lives in infamy,’ brought the United States out of isolation and into the Second World War to support the Allies, who had been fighting a bitter war in Europe for the two previous years.”
One of those killed in the Pearl Harbor attack was Daniel Griffin. Griffin enlisted in the U.S. Navy in El Paso County in 1930 and worked to become a Naval Aviation Pilot.
On that morning in 1941, Petty Officer 1st Class Griffin recognized that aircraft overhead were not American. He swam to his aircraft and was killed in the attack as he attempted to take off. Griffin is interred at Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs, and was honored by having a naval destroyer escort, USS Daniel T Griffin DE-54, named after him in 1943.
“My message to this generation: You are the leaders, you are the taxpayers, you are the voters, you are the legislators. Weakness invites aggression; keep American strong,” Downing said. “I want to keep America so strong that no adversary will ever think of attacking us.”
Downing will attend the upcoming Pearl Harbor Day ceremony in Hawaii.
Commissioners thanked Downing and all veterans for their service.
Commissioner Vice-Chair Darryl Glenn noted, “It is so important that we remember those who volunteered to serve this country and the sacrifices that are made. We have an obligation to not forget the blood that has been shed to enjoy our liberties. Our freedoms rely on the ability to remain strong.”