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Distinguished Tuskegee Airman to speak at NJHS during Black History Month


On February 25, 1942, George Watson, Sr. made a decision that would change his life forever: He volunteered for the U.S. Army.

Now, more than 60 years later, Watson holds a prominent place in history as one of the original members of the Tuskegee Airmen, an extraordinary group of African American fighter pilots and ground crews who fought during World War II. In celebration of Black History Month, Watson will speak during a lunchtime program at The New Jersey Historical Society at 52 Park Place in Newark on Wednesday, Feb. 18, 2004 at 12:15 p.m. to 1 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.

A resident of Lakewood, NJ, the 83-year-old Watson began his military career at Fort Dix in southern New Jersey. He was later hand picked to be among the first group of recruits to help form the 332nd Fighter Group and the 96th Maintenance Group, now famously known as the original Tuskegee Airmen named after Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, AL., where the group received their ground-breaking training.

Despite racism and legalized segregation laws at home and abroad, Watson managed to persevere and honorably serve his country in Italy, Germany, England, Turkey, and Iran. His unit, which destroyed more than 260 enemy aircraft during World War II, never allowed enemy fighters to shoot down any bombers they escorted during a bombing mission. No other fighter group can boast such a feat.

Among Watson’s numerous awards include: the American Defense Medal; the Sharp Shooter Medal; the Army of Occupation Medal; the World War II Victory Medal; the Air Force Commendation Medal; and many more.

Retired from the military after more than 26 years of service, Watson is a sought-after guest speaker who travels throughout the world preserving the legacy of the illustrious group. Watson, the author of "Memorable Memoirs" and "A Salute to the Beginning," is also mentioned in the following books: "Distinguished African Americans in Aviation and Space Science;" "The Tuskegee Airmen 4th Edition, The Tuskegee Airmen," and "Unsung Heroes: A History of the Enlisted Airmen from the Dawn of Flight to Desert Storm."

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