By all accounts, Hal Downes was the proverbial clean cut, All-American good guy. He and his wife, Elinor—who he called Lee—had found the kind of love that romance novels hope to capture. In the spring of ’51, having already served in WWII, Hal got called up from the Reserves to go to Korea. At the time, he and Lee had a toddling son, Ricky, and baby Donna on the way.
On January 13 of ’52, the unthinkable happened. Hal’s plane went down, and he disappeared: Missing in Action. Not injured. Or killed. Or captured. Just missing. When she got the news, Lee collapsed.
It’s a story all too familiar to families of missing servicemen. Those of us who have lived a lifetime not knowing what happened to a loved one understand the anguish. And so, it is with both profound sadness and timeless love that we pay tribute here to our father.
Hal served his country during WWII and again in Korea, but devotion to family was his life’s blood. He was kind and funny and ready to take on the future. When he went missing, we lost all that he would have brought to our lives. Though we have had many good things come to us, we will never be completely whole.
And yet, it wouldn’t be true to say our father has not lived on. Through his family, he has been everywhere that we have ventured over the years. We have loved him and missed him and waited for him. He was never forgotten. Our mother, Lee, recently passed away, at the age of 92. She drew her last breath not knowing what had become of her beloved Hal. Hopefully, they are together now, someplace wonderful, free at last of the pain that was wrought upon them by the cruelty war brings forth.
We, the children who were left wanting daddy to tuck us in at night, teach us to ride a bike, and tell us everything would be okay when bad things happened, now write this memorial to our wonderful father, wherever he is and whatever happened to him.
We love you, Dad. And we’ll never stop searching.
The Coalition is excited to present Memorials for Korean & Cold War POW/MIAs. These single page websites are ways for families to honor their missing loved ones and broaden awareness of the mission to learn answers to the missing men's fate.
Donations from the individual pages provide support for the Coalition of Families of Korean & Cold War POW/MIA's work on issues that drive the search for answers to what happened to the missing men from the Korean and Cold Wars.
The Coalition was organized in 1998 and is granted section 501(c)(3) tax exempt status by the Internal Revenue Service.
The Coalition reserves the right to remove a Memorial page, or comment, that contains offensive content or is contrary to the mission.