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Lt. Col. Ervin Randolph "Randy" Watson

Obituary for Lt. Col. Ervin Randolph "Randy" Watson

May 2, 1921 - February 27, 2019
San Antonio, Texas | Age 97


Ervin Randolph "Randy" Watson, Lieutenant Colonel, U.S. Air Force – Retired, age 97, passed away on 27 February 2019, at Baptist North Hospital in San Antonio, Texas.

He was preceded in his passing by his wife and true love, Mildred Wiley Watson, and his brothers Don and George Watson, and his sister Sylvia Baker.

Lt. Col. Watson was born in Joy, Texas on 2 May 1921 to James "Jake" Marion Watson and Delia Pearl Lucas – Watson. He attended and graduated from Joy School in May 1938.

In 1939, he enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps (later the US Army Air Forces, which then became the U.S. Air Force). He entered pilot training at Kelly Field, Texas in 1942, graduating in 1943 from Blackland Army Airfield, Waco, Texas. After qualifying in DC-3/C-47 and C-46 aircraft he was assigned to the China-Burma-India theater of operations.

During this time, Lt. Col. Watson served as a "Hump Pilot", flying between India and China over the Himalayas to supply allied forces cut off by the Japanese in China and Burma. Flying the "hump" was difficult and dangerous mission, featuring extreme weather, winds over 100 mph at high altitudes, and the constant threat of attack by Japanese fighters. Navigation was primitive and there was often no rescue for aircrews who went down with their planes in the Himalayas. There were many losses. The routes that the Hump crews flew became known as the "aluminum highway", in reference to the wreckage scattered along the way. Lt. Col. Watson completed 78 combat missions flying the Hump.

Following WWII, Lt. Col. Watson attended Texas A&M School of Architecture between 1945 and 1948. He then served as an ROTC instructor at both Texas A&M and Southern Methodist University (SMU). He was a Squadron Commander at Keesler Air Force Base (AFB), Mississippi in 1952-53. In 1954 he was assigned to the Air Rescue Service in Greenland, where he achieved a world record as Co-pilot on the highest altitude polar icecap landing ever successfully attempted. During this time, he flew ski-equipped C-47s and SA-16 seaplanes in the Arctic and north Atlantic regions.

Lt. Col. Watson's later assignments included flying C-131 Air Evacuation (medical transport) aircraft from Travis AFB, California and as a Flight Simulator Instructor and Examiner at Brooks AFB, Texas. He was then returned to Air Rescue duty at Prestwick, Scotland. During this time, he flew C-54s on Search and Rescue (SAR) missions in Europe, including SAR coverage of the Mercury and Gemini space flights.

He returned to the U.S. in 1965 and was stationed at McGuire AFB, New Jersey, then Scott AFB, Missouri, and finally Lackland AFB, Texas where retired in 1970 after 31 years in the military service of his country.

His military awards and decorations include USAF Command Pilot wings, The Distinguished Flying Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the Air Force Commendation Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, the American Theater Campaign Medal, the Asian-Pacific Campaign Medal with two bronze service stars, the World War II Victory Medal, and the Presidential Unit Citation. His foreign awards include the Chinese Medal for CBI Airlift, the British Burma Star for support of troops during the second Burma campaign, and Chinese Air Force pilot wings from the Republic of China.

Following his retirement, Lt. Col. Randy Watson (USAF - Retired) and his family moved to Bulverde, Texas. He became active within the community, serving as president of the Bulverde Landowners Association for four years, as a director of the Guadalupe Telephone Cooperative for four years, as an original member of the Comal County Appraisal Review Board, as a charter member and two-term president of the Bulverde Optimist Club, and a term as Lt. Gov. of Zone 6, South Central District of Optimist International.

Randy Watson was instrumental in the founding of Bulverde Baptist Church and later the founding of First Baptist Church of Bulverde, now known as Grace Fellowship Baptist.

Lt. Col. Watson is survived by his sister, Dale Peden; his sons LTC Thomas W. Watson and wife Lynne, CW4 John C. Watson and wife Wendy, and CW5 Dana R. Watson and wife Natasha; eleven grandchildren; twenty-one great grandchildren; family caregiver of many years, Dorothy Davis; and his caregiver and friend Terry Williams.
Viewing and visitation with the family in memory of Lt. Col. Watson will be between 6:00 and 8:00 p.m. on 6 March 2019 at Porter Loring North in San Antonio.

Services for Lt. Col. Watson will be held at 11:00 a.m. on 14 March 2019 at Grace Fellowship in Bulverde, followed by interment with honors at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery at 1:30 p.m.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Alzheimer's Foundation of America.

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Porter Loring Mortuary North

2102 North Loop 1604 East
San Antonio, TX 78232
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