Skip to main content
Edit entry 

Wayne Edward Downing


Post war Downing flew the F-82, B-47, B-50 and B-52 aircraft.



  • Fred Adair

    Military | Staff Sergeant (3rd Grade) | Aerial Gunner | 416th Bomb Group

  • Norma Raley

    Military | Second Lieutenant | Nurse

Show more

Units served with


Associated Place

  • Wethersfield

    Military site : airfield
    Planned in 1942 as an Eighth Air Force bomber base, Wethersfield was then supposed to be loaned to the RAF in 1943, but was re-allocated to the Ninth Air Force by the time it was complete. Built during 1943-44, it had three concrete runways, 49 loop...

  • Laon/Athies

    Military site : airfield

  • Melun

    Military site : airfield


Event Location Date
Born Ute, Iowa 11 November 1919
Lived in Denver, Colorado July 1941

1137 Sherman Street

Worked at the Orpheum Theatre

Enlisted Denver, CO 8 November 1941
First 416th BG Combat Mission Vacquerie, France 26 March 1944
Completed 1st 416th BG Combat Tour Trier, Germany 17 October 1944

Completed a 65 combat mission tour. He volunteered for a 2nd tour and was transferred to the 670th BS

Married Cherbourg, France 20 October 1944

Married U.S. Army nurse, Norma Raley

First mission of 2nd 416th BG Combat Tour Saarburg, Germany 23 December 1944
Final 416th BG Combat Mission Stod, Czech Republic 1 May 1945

Completed 85 combat missions spanning two tours with the 416th BG

Died Thousand Oaks, California 4 August 2018

Wayne Edward Downing, aka "Speed," died peacefully on August 4, 2018 at his home in Thousand Oaks, California. He was 98 years old.

One of the few remaining WWII combat pilots, he was born Armistice Day, now commonly known as Veteran's Day, on November 11, 1919, to Wayne Wallace and Doris (Selleck) Downing.

Wayne spent most of his youth in Duluth, Minnesota, before moving back to Iowa with his parents and younger brother, Norris Selleck Downing. After graduating high school in Sioux City, Iowa, he completed three years of college at Denver University before volunteering in the aviation cadet program. It was there that he quickly discovered his passion for flying. Later degrees were earned at Arizona University (B.S., 1958) and Maine University (M.Ed., 1963).

Wayne was a fiercely proud Air Force veteran. During WWII, he flew 86 combat missions from England and France as an A-20 Havoc and A-26 Invader pilot of the 416th Bomb Group. While in Europe, he met Norma Raley Downing, a US Army nurse who landed on Utah Beach, Normandy, France in July 1944. They were married on October 20, 1944, in Cherbourg, France. For his service, he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, 17 Air Medals, 6 ETO Battle Stars, and two Presidential Unit Citations.

After WWII ended, he continued his service to participate in Search and Recovery of Body Bones, Bombs and Aircraft crashes not yet recovered from the war with USS LST 711. Wayne continued serving during the Cold War flying B-47s among other aircraft until he was honorably discharged in 1962.

A natural mathematician, Wayne moved on to teach high school and community college math courses; however, his love of aviation was his true passion for the remainder of his life.

Wayne was mild-mannered, patient, generous, kind, and humble. He was a fixture in his Thousand Oaks neighborhood for 50 years and was affectionately regarded as an honorary grandfather to many of the neighborhood children.

Buried Westlake Village, California 7 August 2018

Pierce Brothers Valley Oaks Memorial Park
Westlake Village, Los Angeles County, California, USA


Date Contributor Update
09 April 2021 02:41:49 466thHistorian Changes to unit associations

added connection

Date Contributor Update
09 April 2021 01:58:46 466thHistorian Created entry with surname, middlename, firstname, nationality, service number, highest rank, role, biography, events, unit associations, place associations and aircraft associations