For those of you who are frequent readers (or who know me personally), you know that my past is deeply-tied to my coming of age in the 75th Ranger Regiment and the Special Operations community. The man responsible for the creation of this organization, and more importantly a true friend and leader of the community, was GEN Wayne A. Downing. GEN Downing truly encompassed all that was good about the SpecOps community and he always maintained the status of a "quiet professional". Even after serving for over 34 years in uniform, the General was quick to come back to serve his country after the tragic events of September 11th, 2001, answering the call to become the "White House Anti-Terrorism Czar". GEN Downing is a member of the Ranger Hall of Fame.
Brian Williams of MSNBC.com has an absolutely amazing tribute to this great and special soldier. It's a great read, and the flood of comments pouring in from those who had the privilege of serving with "The WAD" is simply greatness. The Washington Post has a great piece as well, from 2001, referring to him as "the greatest terrorism fighter you never heard of". He was there in Panama to accept the surrender of Gen. Noriega, was reminded pleasantly by GEN Schwarzkopf during Desert Storm to not "personally go into Iraq to target the SCUD missile sites.", and showed up to talk to the Rangers in Somalia after the whole "Blackhawk Down" episode.
GEN Downing will be buried at the United States Military Academy at West Point, NY, where he graduated in 1962 on September 27th, 2007. In lieu of flowers, the family requests contributions be sent to:
Special Operations Warrior Foundation (An amazing organization!)
National Ranger Memorial Foundation, Inc., P.O. Box 53369, Ft. Benning, GA, 31995-3369
St. Thomas Church Building Fund
Peoria Animal Welfare Shelter (The General loved his Labrador retrievers!)
This country and the security community is saddened by the loss of a great man. I look forward to seeing you again, once we're all done here. Rangers Lead the Way, General.