USS HANCOCK CV/CVA-19 ASSOCIATION
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Downey, Charles "Chuck" CAPT USN (D)
VB-80 SB2C Pilot, 44-45
19 February 2016
CALL SIGN "Captain"
Former Poplar Gove Illinois resident Charles ("Chuck" aka "Captain") made his final departure
on February 19, 2016 from DeLand, FL. He died peacefully after a brief illness.
Born in Bridgeport, CT on Aug. 2, 1924, Chuck graduated from high school in 1942, enlisted in the Navy, earned
his carrier qualification on the Wolverine in Lake Michigan, and served as a dive-bomber pilot on the Ticonderoga
and the Hancock.
Chuck was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal for his WWII actions. The youngest Naval aviator
in WWII, he received his wings 17 days before his 19th birthday.
President George H.W. Bush who had previously claimed this honor, gracefully acknowledged this distinction and
met with Chuck in 2014 to share experiences.
After WWII, Chuck remained in the Naval Reserve, becoming the youngest man promoted to the rank of Captain, and
retiring in 1975. In February 2016, he received the Naval Order Lifetime Achievement Award for his many years of
inspiring leadership and dedication.
Chuck graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, then worked for American Airlines for sixteen years. While
Director of Facilities for American, he helped design the airline's flight academy at Fort Worth. In Chicago, he
was vice president of Commuter Airlines, worked for and helped start Midway Airlines, and worked for Butler Aviation.
He married Lorna Kunz on Aug. 25, 1951. Together they raised five children and had many adventures flying in Chuck's
antique Meyers OTW biplane.
After Lorna's death in 1997, Chuck moved to Poplar Grove where he continued to be an active contributor to the
naval and antique aviation communities, mentoring and guiding many young people along the way. During his lifetime,
he flew over forty different types of planes. He continued to fly his biplane until the age of 89. He began spending
winters in Deland, Florida, in 2008, permanently relocating there in October, 2015.
Chuck was preceded in death by his parents Charles and Irene Downey, his brother Joe, his sister Pat, and the love
of his life, Lorna.
He is survived by his children Christine (Mike) Sandusky, Karen (Dick) Lunceford, Elaine Steinbeck, Martha Foster,
and Charles (Sheila) Downey, ten grandchildren, one great-granddaughter, and another great-grandchild on the way.
He is also survived by many friends and fellow aviators.
The family wishes to thank the caring staff at the Halifax Health-Hospice of Volusia County, as well as Kim who
cared for Chuck in his last few weeks. A celebration of his life will take place in June, 2016, in Poplar Grove,
Arrangements by Cremation Society of Illinois, 773-281-5058 or www.cremation-society.com
- See more at: http://www.cremation-society.com/obituary/Charles-Stanley-Downey/DeLand-FL/1592647#sthash.c5R359VK.pmgkAQtS.dpuf
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