James T. "Flakes" Downey, 64, a decorated Vietnam War veteran, died of an apparent heart attack Monday while walking to his Warminster home from the train station.
Mr. Downey was raised by his mother, Mary, and stepfather, Thomas Kennedy, in Roslyn. He attended Abington High School, where he played on the football team.
After graduating, he joined the Marine Corps and served two tours of duty in Vietnam.
Mr. Downey was awarded the Navy Commendation Medal for his actions Nov. 26, 1967, during operations against the Viet Cong.
That night, according to the citation, his company's base camp in Quang Nam province came under mortar attack. As enemy fire became more frequent, he alerted his companions to seek the security of the bunkers.
According to the citation, "Unhesitatingly, Corporal Downey rushed toward the command post as one mortar round exploded in the center of the compound, wounding 12 men. Completely ignoring the hostile fire, Corporal Downey moved toward the area where the wounded men lay. Calling for a corpsman, he immediately began to carry the casualties to the safety of bunkers where they could be treated. With complete disregard for his own safety, he courageously made five trips between the bunkers and the center of the compound to carry wounded Marines to safety."
After his discharge in 1970, Mr. Downey was "haunted" by his experience in Vietnam, his sister Marybeth Vinkler said, and found it difficult to adjust to civilian life. He was an exterminator with Humphreys Pest Control in Glenside for several years and then worked as a cook in restaurants. For the last 15 years he was a cab driver in Montgomery County and Philadelphia.
He played the flute with a series of garage bands and wrote music and poems, his sister said.
In addition, Mr. Downey is survived by brothers Greg and Thomas Kennedy; another sister, Eileen Kennedy; and nieces and nephews.
A Funeral Mass will be said at 11 a.m. tomorrow at Queen of Peace Church, 820 North Hills Ave., Ardsley, where Friends may call after 9:30.
Memorial donations may be made to the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, 3900 Woodland Ave., Philadelphia, 19104.