U Furloughed Pilot Killed In Iraq

Aug 20, 2002
I knew him personally. He was a Class Act!!

William Brian Downs
Friday, June 03 2005 @ 07:56 AM EST
Contributed by: tomw Greenwood Commonwealth - HURLBERT FIELD, Fla. - Maj. William Brian Downs loved his country so much that, when his country called him, he went to Iraq to help bring peace and stability to that war torn country.

"He was a super kid. He was a good father, a good community guy, a good Christian. He was the kind of guy everybody would like to have as a son - just a super guy," said Downs' uncle, John Downs of Greenwood.

Downs, 40, was one of four U.S. Air Force personnel killed Monday, when a Comp Air 7SL airplane they were flying in crashed in the Iraqi desert near the village of Jalula, 80 miles northeast of Baghdad.

Downs was the youngest son of the Rev. Lon Downs, who was pastor at Greenwood's First Christian Church for 10 years. Lon Downs, now retired from the ministry, lives in Goodlettsville, Tenn., a suburb of Nashville.

John Downs said he first learned of his nephew's death on Monday afternoon, when he called his brother on an unrelated matter.

"He told us about it. He had found out five minutes before that," John Downs said.

A memorial service is scheduled to be held at Hurlbert Field near Fort Walton Beach, Fla., at 3 p.m. Friday.

At 11 a.m. Saturday, a church service will be held at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Fort Walton Beach.

Burial in Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., with full military honors, will take place at a later date, Lon Downs said.

A native of St. Louis, Downs graduated from Westminster Christian Academy in 1983.

Afterwards, he attended Grove City College in Grove City, Penn., where he majored in international business.

Downs was a member of the U.S. Air Force Reserve Officers' Training Corps while at Grove City, and he entered the Air Force upon his graduation in 1987, his father said.

Once in the Air Force, Downs received his B-52 pilot's training at Mississippi's Columbus Air Force Base.

He flew combat missions in Desert Storm in 1990, and he later flew C-130 transport aircraft, John Downs said.

Downs also flew air-to-air refueling flights in the Gulf of Mexico, where he refueled helicopters flown by the Drug Enforcement Agency working to interdict drug traffickers before they reached U.S. shores.

Downs left the service and worked for U.S. Air. He piloted flights for the airline for a time out of its Baltimore hub, John Downs said.

Even after leaving the Air Force, Downs remained a member of the Air National Guard.

"He was in the Air National Guard when 9/11 happened. They activated him. They needed his expertise in a number of areas where he'd been trained," John Downs said.

Downs' specialty was special operations, his uncle said.

"He'd say, 'Dad, I'm going to be out of the country for a week.' We never knew when he was going, where he was going or how long he was going to be gone because he was special ops," John Downs said.

The Air Force Times reported in its online edition Tuesday that the downed aircraft was "conducting an operational mission north of Baghdad."

The newspaper did not identify the airmen who died pending notification of the families.

Also reported killed in the crash was the Iraqi pilot of the aircraft.

The plane was assigned to the Iraqi Air Force's 3rd Squadron, which became operational in Kirkuk, Iraq, on April 10, the newspaper reported.

Downs' specialty was that of a trainer of foreign nationals in the art of aerial observation, his uncle said.

"At one time, he was flying a Russian-built, tri-motor aircraft that they used for observation and reconnaissance," John Downs said.

The 3rd Squadron is primarily tasked with flying reconnaissance patrols over the oil pipelines in Northern Iraq. The squadron also transports Iraqi leaders, the Air Force Times reported.

John Downs said the single-engine, propeller-driven plane might have gone down due to a sand storm or "real bad turbulence."

Downs, a ruling elder at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Fort Walton Beach, was seriously considering becoming a pastor and minister after he completed his military career within the next five years, John Downs said.

"He was dedicated to the Lord, the ministry, the military and to his family," Lon Downs said.

Downs also is survived by his wife, Beth Downs; two boys, Chandler Downs, 11, and Bailey Downs, 8; a daughter, Elle Downs, 9, all of Fort Walton Beach; and a brother, Frank Downs of Virginia Beach, Va.
May He and all of those killed in IRAQ andAFGHANISTAN rest in Peace. May God Take care of those
It is a damn shame that more people did not respond to this than anticipated. My brother may know him personally, but seeing that him and I went to the same college there may be a slight chance. My brother from 1985 through 1990 and myself from 1991 to 1995. MY brother is now an instructor and Marine Pilot for C130's. I pray for him and his family and I only wish that There was some way of communication. PLease forward an email for donations or support if you can. PM if there is any additional information.
Former pilot honored with Arlington Cemetery burial

Former US Airways pilot William Brian Downs lost his
life recently in a plane crash in Iraq.

He died on Memorial Day, May 30, in the crash of an
Iraqi Air Force plane that was conducting a training
mission about 80 miles northeast of Baghdad, the
Washington Post reported. The crash took the lives of
four U.S. Air Force personnel and an Iraqi pilot.

Downs worked for US Airways from February 2000 until
he was furloughed in December 2001. He was a MetroJet
first officer, based in Baltimore.

He subsequently returned to duty as a major in the Air
Force. A resident of Shalimar, Fla., he is survived by
his wife, three children, his father and his brother.

He will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery. The
burial is scheduled for June 21 at 1 p.m. Jim
Corbusier, regional director of flying who formerly
oversaw the Baltimore crew base, will attend.
Information on the burial will be posted June 20th at
www.arlingtoncemetery.org under "Funeral Schedules."