WWII PACIFIC ACE COL. JAMES WATKINS - CO-SIGNATORY
James Albert (Duckbutt)
Watkins was born in Crystal Springs, Mississippi on 26 August 1920.
He enlisted in the Army Air Corps as an aviation cadet on 10
February 1941 and was commissioned upon completion of flight training at
Craig Field, Alabama on 26 September.
to the 36th Pursuit Squadron, 8th Pursuit Group at Mitchell Field, New
York for fighter transition on 15 December he transferred to the 9th
Pursuit Squadron, 49th Pursuit Group and moved with the group to
Australia in January 1942. They
received their P-40s in Australia and, after a brief training period,
provided air defense for the Northern Territory. Moving to Port Moresby,
New Guinea in October, they were engaged primarily in the defense of
scored his first victory on 26 December 1942, downing a Zero southwest
of Dobodura. The group
began receiving their first P-38s in February 1943, and the 9th was the
first squadron to complete their transition.
By summer Watkins had been promoted to captain and began scoring
heavily in the P-38 – four Tonys destroyed on 26 July and three Oscars
two days later. He
continued his multiple scoring the next month, downing three Oscars on 2
home in September 1943, Watkins became a fighter instructor at various
West Coast bases. He
returned to combat in February 1945 on the 49th Fighter Group staff and
logged one final victory on 2 April.
He remained overseas until January 1948, serving with the
occupation forces in Japan.
the war, Watkins served in a variety of nuclear and special weapons test
posts, advancing to colonel in 1955.
He was also the first commander of the 4926th Test Squadron
(sampling). The only Air
Force Atomic Cloud Sampling unit. In
this capacity he trained pilots and helped develop equipment and
assignments included duty in Turkey and Chief of Foreign Military Sales
Division for the Air Force. Retiring
in February 1970, he became active in the insurance industry.
Tally Record: 12
confirmed and one probable kill. Decorations:
Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star with one Oak Leaf Cluster,
Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster,
Air Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters and the Air Force Commendation
Medal with two Oak Leaf Clusters.