We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of American war hero and record holder Jim Downing, who held the Guinness World Records title for being the world’s Oldest author at the age of 104.

According to a statement released by his family, he passed away peacefully in his home of Colorado Springs last night (Tuesday 13 February 2018), after living a long and fulfilling life.

The retired Lieutenant was initially recognised for his achievement at the age of 102, after publishing his novel The Other Side of Infamy - an autobiography recounting the early Sunday morning when the Japanese attacked his ship on Hawaiian naval base Pearl Harbor.

Oldest author 3

We had the privilege of interviewing Jim for an exclusive feature last year, after his 103rd birthday, in which he shared a personal perspective on what it was like to fight at Pearl Harbor with his fellow militants.

To this day, December 7th is remembered in the United States as a day of sadness due to the 2,403 men and women that were killed during the surprise attack; but a few more survived thanks to Jim – who happened to be off site during the attack, but charged right into the pinnacle of chaos to defend the USS West Virginia.

Though he was putting a great deal at risk by going to help survivors, Jim did not hesitate to go to the aid of those who really needed him.

Oldest author 2

Jim was was also known for a particularly remarkable act of heroism, which involved memorising the dog tags of deceased soldiers and sending letters to their families to let them know what had happened.

The Lieutenant is highly regarded by the people whose lives he helped save during the historic attack on Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor in 1941.

He now leaves behind six children, nine grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.

Oldest author

Upon receiving his Guinness World Records title, Jim expressed overwhelming pride.

"I felt that I have a story that’s worth telling, so being an author lead me to spread the story better than any other way. It’s about sharing the history and keeping the story alive that impacts others." 

Following his passing, Jim’s record title has transitioned from Oldest author living to Oldest author ever, having been the only person in history to compose a novel at the age of 102.

We hope others are inspired by his heroism, bravery and record-breaking record-breaking achievements.

Read more: The Pearl Harbor hero who’s now a record-breaking author

Jim's passing comes shortly after the death of Francisco Nuñez Olivera, a 103-year-old from Spain who held the title Oldest living person (male).