JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. —
It was a full house at the Calvary Lighthouse Church in Lakewood, New Jersey, July 1, 2017, as patriots from all walks of life came together to celebrate the life of U.S. Air Force ret., Tech. Sgt. George Watson Sr., who passed away at 96 years old on June 19.
Watson Sr. volunteered to join the U.S. Army on Feb. 25, 1942. He completed his basic training at then-Fort Dix and expected to continue on to infantry. But to his surprise, he was instead assigned to the U.S. Army Air Corps to an African-American fighter group based at the Army's flight-training area in Tuskegee, Alabama - The Tuskegee Airmen. He served with them in Italy during World War II.
Watson Sr. chose to serve through the prejudice of the time, and the accomplishments of African-American units like the Tuskegee Airmen during World War II made it possible for President Truman to end segregation in the military in 1948.
Retiring from the U.S. Air Force after 26 years of service, Watson Sr. remained an active part of the military community at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.
“He would always give his time and tell as many stories as he possibly could,” said George Watson III. “His favorite place was the military base – he loved to visit the servicemembers. He seemed to know all of them and they all definitely knew him.”
The celebration of Watson Sr.’s life was attended by not only his close friends and family, but countless people who looked to him as a hero and a mentor. The funeral-goers agreed Watson Sr. was a great man who lived a great life. Watson Sr. lived his life selflessly, giving back to the community and sharing his story until the end of his days.
“He was a soldier’s soldier - an airman’s airman; he was the wingman you wanted by your side,” said Col. Darren Cole, 305th Air Mobility Wing commander. “He had the toughness to get the job done.”
Watson Sr.’s legacy is carried on by his extended family, including two of his children, Tina and Maurice and their families. Watson Sr. joins his wife of 71 years, Louise Watson, and son George Watson Jr.
“I will cherish the stories and memories shared by my grandfather,” said Bryce Watson. “The funeral was a fitting tribute to a great man.”