Frank Clarence Watson, Navigator

17th SOS, Tuy Hoa and Phu Cat, 1970

I graduated from Blue Springs High School in Blue Springs, Missouri in 1960. Upon graduation from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York, I was commissioned as an officer in the United States Air Force in July 1964. I joined the Air Force because I had injured my knee playing college football and the Army wouldn’t allow me to go to Ranger or Jump School. Thus, I decided to be commissioned in the Air Force and sleep on clean sheets. My class was the last class to have a choice of service.

In Vietnam, I was an AC-119G Shadow navigator in the 17th Special Operations Squadron stationed at Tuy Hoa and Phu Cat in 1970. My most exciting missions were flown in the Parrot’s Beak and Angel Wing Operations of the Cambodian Incursion in 1970. I was flying with aircraft commander, Captain Bert Blanton and we sustained battle damage to the left aileron but Bert flew us safely back to Saigon. The Dak Seng and Dak Pek Operations were also very memorable.

I will always remember Chuck James, Carmine Stolla, Mike Mankin, Phil Diehl, Don Craig, and Sonny Siebert to name just a few of the dedicated Shadows who I lived, worked, and flew combat missions with.

I was Base Commander of Minot AFB, North Dakota when I retired from the Air Force in 1986 at the rank of Colonel with 22 years active service.