Watson, Leroy Hugh, Jr., Col

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Last Rank
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
00066-Air Commander
Last AFSC Group
Command and Control
Primary Unit
1956-1959, Williams Air Force Base - IWA
Service Years
1941 - 1959

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by the Site Administrator to remember Watson, Leroy Hugh, Jr., Col.
Contact Info
Home Town
Fort MacPherson, Georgia
Last Address
Williams AFB, Mesa, Arizona

Date of Passing
Mar 10, 1959
Location of Interment
Arlington National Cemetery - Arlington, Virginia
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Plot: Sec: 10, Site: 10517

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Last Known Activity
Leroy Watson was born in Fort MacPherson, Ga. on 30 December 1917, the son of Captain (later Major General) Leroy H. Watson and Alice Furey Watson. The years of his youth were the pleasant ones of an Army boy, moving from Post to Post with his family and absorbing the service lore which he loved so much.
He first entered West Point with the Class of 1940. After some difficulties with the Dept. of Mathematics in his Plebe year, he was turned back to join the Class of ’41. It was our great gain. He graduated with us, standing in the upper quarter of the class.
Roy chose the Infantry on graduation in order to get into the newly forming Armored Force. His first assignment as a Platoon leader was to the Third Armored Division at Camp Polk, Louisiana. Within six months he was a Company Commander, and a extremely capable one.
In the summer of 1942, Roy made a most difficult decision. He decided that opportunities for combat duty would come to him sooner in the Army Air Force, and thus transferred to that branch of the service. Roy soon won his wings and was sent to England in 1943 to command a B-17 Squadron. Thereafter, during World War II. Roy proved himself an outstanding pilot, commander and operational staff officer. He flew a total of 208 combat missions and was awarded the Legion of Merit, the Distinguished Flying Cross with Cluster, the Croix de Guerre with Palm and the Air Medal with Three Clusters.
In late 1944, Roy suffered the first of two personal tragedies when his wife Sheila died suddenly while he was in England. He finished out the war with his unit and returned to the United States for a short tour at Wright Field. Thereafter he was assigned to West Point as instructor and Assistant Professor in the Department of Economics, Government and History. While stationed at West Point, Roy married Mrs. Ethel Ball.
In 1952 Roy was assigned to the Staff of Admiral Arthur W. Radford. Commander-in-Chief, Pacific. Following a delightful three-year tour in Hawaii, Roy was requested by Admiral Radford to be his Executive Assistant when the Admiral was appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Roy remained with Admiral Radford during his two terms as Chairman; four years of hard work but most satisfying duty.
In the summer of 1958, Roy received a second tragic blow in the death, after a long illness, of his beloved wife Ethel.
As an indication of Roy’s real worth to the service, the following are extracts from a letter received by his father from the Vice President of the United States:
“Dear General Watson:
I have just now learned of your son’s passing and I wanted to get this note off to you to tell you how very deeply sorry I am. I considered him one of the finest officers I have ever known, and his loss is indeed a personal one to me...
While words mean very little at times like these, please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you in the days ahead.
With kindest regards,
Richard Nixon”
When one thinks of Roy, as all we who knew him so well have done since his death, I believe one would single out as his outstanding characteristics, aggressiveness, intellectual brilliance and unfailing good humor. He had all three in abundance. His service to his country was highlighted during World War II by high courage and competence. After the war his outstanding contribution was his superior staff support to Admiral Radford.
Roy passed away in his sleep on 10 March 1959 at Williams Air Force Base, Arizona. He leaves his two lovely daughters, Louise and Sheila, his father, Major General Leroy H. Watson, his stepmother, two sisters and a younger brother.
And he leaves his host of friends saddened by his untimely death, but finding some solace in the certain knowledge that Roy served his God and his Country uncommonly well.
—G. W. McIntyre, Class of ’41

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 Unit Assignments
US Army (USA)United States Army Air Forces (USAAF)United States Pacific Command (USPACOM)Air Force Bases/ Installations
  1941-1942, US Army (USA)
  1942-1947, United States Army Air Forces (USAAF)
  1947-1952, US Army (USA)
  1952-1956, Commander in Chief of Pacific (CinCPac). , United States Pacific Command (USPACOM)
  1956-1959, Williams Air Force Base - IWA
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1942-1945 World War II/European-African-Middle Eastern Theater
 Colleges Attended 
United States Military Academy
  1936-1941, United States Military Academy
 My Aircraft/Missiles
B-17 Flying Fortress  
  1942-1945, B-17 Flying Fortress
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