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Mel Downing in 1945
Mel and David Downing

Mel Downing was born in Newton Massachusetts, just outside of Boston, in August 1926. By his own admission, Mel didn't do well in high school. At the end of his ninth grade year he entered the New York Military Academy. He enlisted in the US Navy at 17 with his father's consent, and was assigned sea duty on the USS Gosper. He served two years in combat zones in the war's Pacific theater, and by age 19 Mel was a seasoned war veteran. He spoke with his son David about his war experience and how the impact of the war stays with him today.

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Listen to Florida Stories Friday afternoons during "All Things Considered" on WUSF 89.7, Your NPR Station.

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Music Credits: Opening piece/closing piece: Rainbow Mist, Yesterdays, Coleman Hawkins and His Orchestra, Rainbow Mist, Delmark Records

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