George Watson (Medal of Honor)

George Watson (Medal Of Honor)

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George Watson (Medal of Honor)

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George Watson (died March 8, 1943) was a private in the United States Army who was killed in action during World War II. He was one of seven African American soldiers to receive the Medal of Honor for their actions during World War II, and the only one of the seven to earn his medal while serving in the Pacific Theater.


A resident of Birmingham, Alabama, he attended Colorado A&M (now known as Colorado State University) and graduated in 1942. He entered the Army on September 1, 1942, and was a member of the 2nd Battalion, 29th Quartermaster Regiment. He was a passenger aboard the Dutch steamer USAT s'Jacob on March 8, 1943, which was near Porlock Harbor, New Guinea, when the ship was hit by Japanese bombers.

When the ship was abandoned, Watson remained in the water and, instead of trying to save himself, assisted soldiers who could not swim into life rafts. Weakened by his exertions, he was dragged down by the suction of the sinking ship and drowned. His body was never recovered.

For this action, Watson was originally awarded the Army's second-highest decoration, the Distinguished Service Cross. He was the first African American to receive the Distinguished Service Cross in World War II. The award was upgraded to the Medal of Honor in 1997. During a ceremony conducted on January 13 of that year, President Bill Clinton bestowed the Medal of Honor on seven African American...
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