Veteran of the Day

Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Tommy Downs. Known most affectionately by all who knew him as Chief Downs, Tommy served the United States Air Force and Kentucky Air National Guard for more than 30 years. Tommy’s service was cut short by his untimely passing after complications with pancreatitis in December 2009, but his legacy lives on in the hearts of those he served. Tommy was larger than life, in both his commitment to his Airmen and his stature, a giant among men in all facets of the word. Tommy had catcher’s-mitts for hands and a towering presence, but everyone knew his heart was the biggest part of his enormous frame. 

Much of Tommy’s long career was spent teaching, mentoring and coaching young Airmen. He is credited with the creation of the Air National Guard Aerial Port University and is beloved by members of the United States Air Force and Air National Guard, the world over. 

At his memorial service, then Brig. Gen. Mark Kraus said this of Tommy, “When giant oaks fall they come down with a thunderous commotion, and their shadow is seen no more. The quiet strength I knew him for prevailed to the very end, but unlike the disappearing shadow of the fallen giant oak, the shadow cast by Chief Downs remains for us. It lives on in the lessons he taught us, in the laughs we shared, with the impact he made, in the lives he touched and in the stories we’ll tell and retell. These are the things I know: Giants walk among us. I’m not one of them. But I knew one.”

We honor your service, Tommy!

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