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Veldon Downing Survivor Story - LST 531
VELDON DOWNING - LST 531 (Deceased)
U. S. Army, 1st Engineering Special Brigade, 3206th Quartermaster Service Company
His survivor story as reported in the Kansas City Star, May 31, 1994:
Veldon Downing, a retired trucker and packing-house worker from St. Joseph, Missouri, a member of the 3026th Quartermaster Company, was below deck on LST 531 when it was hit by a torpedo. “I was in my bunk asleep when it blew and all the lights went out,” Downing said. “I got my pants on and made a beeline for the door and somehow managed to get topside. The last thing I heard in the darkness was Ivan Brown yelling to Alvin Richardson. “Ivan said: ‘For God’s sake, hurry up!’! I never saw them again.” Downing swam away from LST 531, fearing it would suck him down. Then he turned, saw part of the ship was still above water and swam back. He clambered on part of the superstructure and a few hours later was rescued, half-naked, freezing and coated with a black slime of spilled oil. Afterwards, Downing related, “They told us to keep our mouths shut, and we did. After the war, the parents of one of the kids I served with and who’d been lost drove all the way out here from New York just to ask me what happened. I told them I couldn’t talk about it.” The censorship was imposed, histories of the event later said, because of the coming invasion. D-Day followed Slapton Sands by only 37 days. Any release of information, it was thought, could tip the Germans to Allied plans.