Obituary: William Downs McDowell, 1987-2019 | Obituaries | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice
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Obituary: William Downs McDowell, 1987-2019 

Franklin County father of two was a decorated veteran

click to enlarge William Downs McDowell
  • William Downs McDowell

William Downs McDowell, 32, was born February 22, 1987 in Burlington, Vt., and passed away December 16, 2019. Will grew up in Georgia, Vt., where he enjoyed a childhood surrounded by a large extended family and the joy of sports with a gang of close friends. Will was a natural born leader; upon learning that the Georgia Middle School did not have a baseball team he enlisted his dad Rick to coach a team, recruited players, and together the community built a field. Will attended high school at B.F.A. St. Albans and then joined the Vermont National Guard, which led him to a thirteen-year career in the Army. Will married Kristin Lim of Honolulu, Hawaii, in 2009. A life in the service took Will and Kristin to many places, including Seattle, where the couple first met; Colorado, where they enjoyed snowboarding; and Alaska, where they enjoyed salmon fishing, outdoor adventures, and where they welcomed their greatest joy, their children Luke (3) and Maddie (19 months). Will loved his family, and he enjoyed his dogs, Duke and Marley, and connecting with his siblings, Meghan, Scott, Jack, and Kelly.

Will is a decorated veteran of the Global War on Terror, serving four tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan totaling 39 months (1,186 days) in some of the most austere operational environments. During this time, Will established himself as a skillful soldier and talented leader who others looked up to. Over the course of his distinguished career, Will received 31 awards and decorations for exceptional performance and meritorious service. These honors include: four Army Commendation Medals; two Army Achievement Medals; two Meritorious Unit Commendations; a National Defense Service Ribbon; two Afghanistan Campaign Medals; two Iraq Campaign Medals; a Global War on Terrorism Service Medal; and a Combat Infantry Badge and Expert Infantry Badge. Will is also a graduate of the U.S. Army Ranger and Airborne School, earning both the coveted Ranger Tab and Airborne Badge. In 2016, Will was selected to represent U.S. Army Alaska in the annual “Best Ranger Competition.”

During his career, Will served in every Mortarman position from Ammo Bearer, Gunner, and Team Leader to Mortar Platoon Sergeant (forward deployed Afghanistan). He was a consummate professional who possessed a tireless work ethic and sincere care for his soldiers. Will inspired soldiers of all ranks to pursue and achieve greatness. He has positively influenced countless lives throughout his service, and his legacy will be forever remembered.

In addition to his wife, Kristin, and two children, Will leaves behind his mother Ginger McDowell (Michele and Greg Boomhower); father Rick McDowell (Diane McDowell); siblings Meghan McDowell (China), Scott McDowell (Allison), Jack McDowell (Chelsea), Kelly McDowell (Nathan); grandfather Thomas Hitchcock; nephew Myles and niece Rayo. Will was predeceased by his grandparents Richard and Bib McDowell and June Hitchcock. Will’s surviving great aunts include Theresa, Martha, Agatha, and Betty, and his aunts and uncles Mary Kim and Charlie Lavery, Jay and Trisha McDowell, Marsha and Bob Drake, Mark and Kim McDowell, Sandy and Tim Wilmot, Jenny and Jim Bedell, Carol and Ed Salls, Mary and Bob Streeter, father-in-law and mother-in-law Wesley and Corinne Lim of Honolulu, grandmother-in-law Lucille Ching, brother-in-law Jonathan Lim and many, many first cousins.

Will’s service will be held on Friday, December 27 at 11:00 a.m. at the United Church of Underhill, 7 Park Street, Underhill, Vt., for family and friends. A full military honors service will be held in July at the Vermont Veteran’s Memorial Cemetery in Randolph Center, Vermont. In lieu of flowers, donations in Will’s honor may be made to Warrior Outreach Ranch at http://warrioroutreach.org/services/. The family also invites you to share your memories by visiting www.awrfh.com.

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