President and Executive Director
Coalition of Families of Korean & Cold War POW/MIAs
Member Since 2017
Richard Downes is president and executive director of the Coalition of Families of Korean & Cold War POW/MIAs, a non-profit organization pursuing answers to the fate of missing American servicemen and finding closure for their families. Rick has worked closely with Congressional offices, the Department of Defense, and non-governmental organizations to further the accounting mission. He partnered with the Richardson Center for Global Engagement in talks with the DPRK to return collected remains of U.S. servicemen, and collaborated with the Department of Army to declassify records containing information on unknown Korean War remains interred in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific. He has collaborated with Congressional offices on legislation to return prisoner of war debriefs and intel reports withheld from WWII through the Cold War, resolutions calling for renewed joint remains recovery operations between the DPRK and the United States, and coauthored amendments to exempt P.O.W./M.I.A. operations from sanctions.
Rick is a prolific writer of short stories, creative commentary, and yes, a novel. Some time ago, an environmental conscience found a home in Rick’s everyday life, where it still resides.
Rick’s father, Hal, was declared missing in action during an air mission over North Korea on January 13, 1952. In September 2016, Rick joined the delegation from the Richardson Center in travel to Pyongyang to discuss the return of U.S. servicemen’s remains. The landing route passed over the same rice paddies and gentle hills described by the survivors of his father’s flight. It was the closest the son felt to his father since the day he was three years old and they last said goodbye.
A photo of Rick on his first day in North Korea.