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WWII veteran goes on national book tour at age of 103

Jim Downing says he joined the Navy because he needed a steady paycheck.

Dec. 7, 1941 still lives in infamy for Lt. Jim Downing. He had enlisted in the Navy years before World War II for the paycheck.

“That was the middle of the big depression. I lived in a small town and the military was the only way to get on your own in those days,” Downing said.

The stories are all in Downing’s new book that he wrote at the age of 103. He shares the life lessons he learned on the USS West Virginia during that sneak attack on a Sunday morning.

“The first Japanese plane I saw was flying in my direction low and slow,” Downing said. “The pilot banked, then the machine gunner cut loose. But they didn’t go fast enough and it went over my head.