Friday, April 23, 2010

Late word of the death of a man to be remembered: Colonel Spann Watson, Tuskegee Airman and armed citizen.

By way of David Codrea, from

Tuskegee Airman Spann Watson Dead At 93

by Richard Cooper April 21, 2010

Retired US Air Force Colonel Spann Watson died April 15th of complications from pneumonia. He was one of the original complement of World War II African-American pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen, which actually formed the 99th Fighter Squadron based in North Africa and the 322nd Fighter Group based in Italy. The Tuskegee Airmen were trained by the Division of Aeronautics of Tuskegee Institute, which had been founded by Booker T. Washington. Watson himself flew missions over North Africa, Sicily, Italy and Southern Europe. Spann Watson remained in the newly created Air Force, retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in 1965. He joined the Federal Aviation Administration.

The Army Air Corps of their day was segregated by race as were the entire American Armed Forces.

For 48 years, he was a resident of the Village of Westbury, New York which is why I encountered him twice. I live in the hamlet of Salisbury and we share the Westbury post office. In 2001, I attended the Central Westbury Civic Association scholarship fundraising luncheon honoring Colonel Watson. The Association was then led by the late Mannie Sweat, whom I knew in my then capacity as Libertarian Party of New York State Chair. It was a very nice event with singing of "Lift Every Voice & Sing" and "America The Beautiful."

Colonel Watson mentioned the TV movie about the Tuskegee Airmen starring Laurence Fishburne. He didn't think too highly of it, saying something to the effect that they weren't spending their time fornicating and carrying on. If I recall correctly, he said something like "We were flyboys, not playboys."

On another occasion I attended a Central Westbury Civic Association meeting. There were complaints about motorcyclists terrorizing the block. Someone said they were afraid to talk to the police in case word went back to the troublemakers. Colonel Watson noted that he was a gunowner with a shotgun and wasn't afraid of riffraff. He took his First and Second Amendments seriously, I guess.

He was quite a character with an interesting life. I am glad I encountered him.


The Trainer said...

Absent Comrades.....

(for the uninitiated, the foregoing was a toast to those who passed away or were killed in action...)

Flight-ER-Doc said...

Blue skies, and tailwinds, Colonel.

Taylor H said...

One of the most incredible groups of Airmen ever to grace the skies.

Sedition said...

Yet another American Hero lost.
R.I.P Colonel.

B said...



Phil In Ohio said...

the tuskegee airmen are not understood by modern day America , but they deserve their place in history. i believe i would rather have 10 of them airmen with me than a 150 nonbelievers ...

DC Wright said...

I know a couple of the Tuskegee Airmen out here in my neck of the woods. Finer gentlemen and truer warriors I never met, and I have known many! God keep them all well!

DC Wright
USMC Retired

Anonymous said...

I also had the pleasure of serving with a Tuskegee Airman...LtCol George Sherman, USAF retired. He died several year ago, but will never be forgotten by his friends. He was a dedicated officer and gentleman, with a wonderful sense of humor and a love of country that could never be questioned.

Our true heroes are leaving us much too quickly. RIP good Colonels.

rexxhead said...

I gave one of my daughters a wooden plaque, a quote from Timothy Leary (yeah, THAT Timothy Leary): "Women who seek equality with men lack ambition".

The same is true of blacks (vis-a-vis whites).

Given the right impetus, we can ALL be extraordinary. Let us reach for the stars.


straightarrow said...

Absent companions.