HomeNewsArticle Display

Gen. LeMay's lead operational bombing planner dies at 101, family makes unique donation

Retired Air Force Col. John Watters and his wife, Jean, pose for a wedding photo after World War II. Watters passed away in 2018 and his family donated his military literature collection to Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

Retired Air Force Col. John Watters and his wife, Jean, pose for a wedding photo after World War II. Watters passed away in 2018 and his family donated his military literature collection to Offutt Air Force Base, Neb. (U.S. Air Force courtesy photo)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. (AFNS) -- When the family of a man who lived to see the age, 101, served his country for 30 years in the Army, Army Air Corps and Air Force through World War II, asks to donate something, the answer is easy.

Col. John Watters Sr., a Selma, Alabama native, graduated from Auburn University in 1940 and immediately commissioned into the Army horse-drawn artillery. A few years later, he found himself in the Army Air Corps as a B-17 bombardier and navigator, completing more than 25 combat bombing missions when life expectancy was ten.

During WWII in England, he met his wife, Jean, who served in the Women's Royal Naval Service with the ENIGMA code-breaking program. Some estimates say the ENIGMA program shortened WWII by several years. Since the program was classified, Watters had no idea she was involved in the program until it was declassified 30 years later.

It wasn’t long until the Air Force was established and he made another switch. His final assignment was as Gen. Curtis LeMay's, Strategic Air Command commander, lead operational bombing planner.

He commanded many units and during his career was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Watters retired in 1970 and remained in Bellevue, Nebraska. In 2018,, he passed away leaving behind his wife of 72 years, six children, eight grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren.

Throughout his life journeys, one of his pastimes was collecting military literature.

It was his family, specifically his son, retired U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Robin Watters, who suggested leaving the extensive collection of military books to Offutt Air Force Base. Robin spoke with retired U.S. Air Force Brig. Gen. Regis Urshler, former 55th Wing commander, 55th Wing Association’s president, retired U.S. Air Force Col. Joe Spivey and the 55th Wing Historian, John McQueney.

As soon as the connections were made, the ball started rolling. McQueney and Robin met at Robin’s parent’s house. They spent a few hours going through the books before McQueney took possession of them and brought them to base.

With approximately a hundred U.S. and Air Force history books from the Watters’ collection in tow, the next step was to find a way to not let the donation go to waste. McQueney decided to open a professional development reading library in his office.

“I think it is something nice to offer young Airmen and a good tribute to Col. Watters.” McQueney said.

The books can be checked out by anyone on the base interested in learning about history.

“After decades of affiliation to the fightin’ fifty-fifth mission, I know the Watters’ family library collection will be a significant resource for the 55th Wing,” said Spivey. “It was an honor to facilitate the donation on behalf of all 55th Wing alums—past, present and future. Through the Wing Historian’s office, each volume serves as a reminder of the Watters estate, their family’s generosity and an enduring treasure from the greatest generation.”

Engage

Twitter
Special tactics Airmen assigned to the 24th Special Operations Wing, @AFSpecOpsCmd, concluded their response to aug… https://t.co/QAgSEOKdbB
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Happy 74th Birthday @USAirForce. We have come a long way and will continue to fly, fight, and win…#Airpower #AnytimeAnywh
Twitter
RT @DeptofDefense: For 74 years, the @usairforce has been protecting our skies and defending our nation. Happy birthday, #AirForce! https:…
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: SecAF's message to #Airmen on the @USAirForce's birthday: "You’ve built a proud legacy over the decades -- the future wi…
Twitter
USAF tradition calls for the most junior ranking Airman and most senior ranking Airman present to cut the birthday… https://t.co/c6COZ5fcvf
Twitter
Today is our 74th Birthday! From humble beginnings in 1947, we stand on the shoulders of great Airmen who have hel… https://t.co/Y5l4gnGiBp
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Meet MSgt Aldrian Byrd. He led security operations in support of Operation Allies Refuge at Ramstein AB and ensured the s…
Twitter
In partnership with the @AFResearchLab's Strategic Development Planning and Experimentation directorate,… https://t.co/NgCL6CkPVJ
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: The @USAirForce was established Sept. 18, 1947 by that year's National Security Act. To kick-off the service's formal bi…
Twitter
.@AFWERX Agility Prime partner, Moog Aircraft Group, has created a prototype electric vertical takeoff and landing… https://t.co/j8GTzog2bJ
Twitter
Three C-130s flying sorties from McClellan Air Tanker Base in Sacramento County, CA, are performing an aerial firef… https://t.co/77dTFbhjXI
Twitter
RT @SecAFOfficial: A senior leader message prior to the @USAirForce's 74th birthday: "Our Airmen serve around the globe, always ready to de…
Twitter
Today is POW/MIA Recognition Day. We recognize the more than half-million service members who have, at one time, be… https://t.co/txZ2zTxlm0
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Innovation depends on both creativity and support to turn concepts into reality. It requires courage, and rewards tenacit…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: Partnerships are fundamental to executing the mission. Working with and learning from our partner nations @NATO -- togeth…
Twitter
RT @AETCommand: The 2021 #ENJJPT Steering Committee is happening at @SheppardAFB this week! Excited to continue our partnership to deliver…
Twitter
RT @GenCQBrownJr: This is Capt Eric Johnson. He was critical to the reception, care, feeding and bed down of more than 30,000 vulnerable Af…
Twitter
.@UnderSecAF Gina Ortiz Jones met with @USAFReserve Airmen to discuss the @DeptofDefense COVID-19 vaccination direc… https://t.co/9y28hmcMir
Twitter
Join Department of the Air Force senior leaders for a live, virtual town hall discussing the Racial Disparity Revie… https://t.co/6Z7N6QIuLP
Facebook
The newest Air Force Podcast recently dropped. Listen to a small snippet of CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright talk with Staff Sgt. New about resiliency. Listen to the entire podcast on Youtube: https://go.usa.gov/xpnAD or Subscribe to The Air Force Podcast on iTunes: https://podcasts.apple.com/podcast/the-air-force-podcast/id1264107694?mt=2
Facebook
Our mantra, "Always ready!" It's the spirit we fly by! #B2Tuesday
Facebook
Need some motivation to get your week started off right? Listen as CMSAF Kaleth O. Wright weighs in...
Facebook
The U.S. Air Force Academy gives its cadets some unique opportunities. Ride along one of this opportunities.
Facebook
A United States Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker refuels an F-22 Raptor over northern Iraq, Nov. 6, 2019. U.S. Central Command operations deter adversaries and demonstrate support for allies and partners in the region. (Video by Staff Sgt. Daniel Snider)
Facebook
Although the Silver Star is the third-highest military medal, it's not given often. Today, TSgt Cody Smith was the 49th Special Tactics Airman to receive this medal since Sept. 11th, 2001. Read more of TSgt Smith's amazing story: https://www.airforcespecialtactics.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/2024815/special-tactics-airman-battled-through-injuries-awarded-silver-star/fbclid/IwAR2LZWwx1VHdTnQe39rIEBOuJS_0JvMQBBGt7I-E6zsxxn-Lx9387yu43Bc/ Cannon Air Force Base Air Force Special Operations Command United States Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) U.S. Department of Defense (DoD)
Facebook
Tune in as our Air Force musicians along with other military musicians are awarded the National Medal of Arts.
Facebook
Like Us
Twitter
1,376,379
Follow Us