At 96 Sgt. John Watson, a crew chief of the World War II Tuskegee Airman Squadron, was not sure how he could go about being recognized as a member of the group, but he used what meager computer skills he had to go about finding out.
He didn’t get all that far, but his relatives reached out to Sgt. Paul Dorsey, vice president of the “Always Free Honor Flight,” who in turn got in touch with West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin’s office. The Democrat’s staff was able to push through the process of vetting a Tuskegee Airman, telescoping a months long process into a matter of weeks.
The Tuskegee Airman Association took the baton and assured Sen. Manchin’s office that Sgt. Watson was indeed a member of the esteemed, and now quite famed, Tuskegee Airman.
“He knew he was there,” Manchin explained. “He knew he did his duty and did it well and had succeeded, but he had never been truly honored as a Tuskegee Airman.”
That situation was rectified with a surprise ceremony during an Honor Flight when the 96 year old veteran joined his brothers in arms to visit the memorial to the greatest generation.
Shortly after receiving his Congressional Gold Medal, Watson was overwhelmed with gratitude.
“I appreciate everyone that had the minute-ist interest in it,” Watson said. Three-dozen members of the American Fighter Aces — elite fighter pilots who fought in several wars — were also honored Wednesday with the Congressional Gold Medal.
At this time, the Greatest Generation is quickly passing, and the Tuskegee Airmen are numbered around 200 left. However their sacrifice and giving to a grateful nation is not forgotten.