Brattleboro- James Leland "Jim" Watson, 97, formerly of Speno Court and a lifelong resident of Brattleboro died peacefully Thursday afternoon, January 12, 2017 at the Bradley House.
Mr. Watson was born in Brattleboro on January 16, 1919 the son of Joseph and Fannie (Holden) Watson. He was raised and educated in Brattleboro and was a graduate of Brattleboro High School, Class of 1937. He went on to attend Bay Path Institute and later Northeast Missouri State University where he was a pre-med major.
He proudly served his country during World War II in the United States Army Air Corp with the Mighty Eighth Air Force, 385"Th Bomb Group, 551St Bomb Squadron stationed in Great Britain. He flew as a co-pilot completing 25 bombing missions over Europe that included the infamous Schweinfurt/Regensburg Mission (Bloody Thursday), August 17, 1943, and a bombing mission to Munster, Germany, considered one of the most veracious of all bombing missions during the war. Towards the close of the war he returned to the United States and continued flying helping to deliver 13 new B-29 Super Fortresses bombers for the 7'th Ferry Command.
He was the recipient of the Presidential Unit Citation, flying cross & cluster respectively and the Air Force metal with three oak leaf clusters and Distinguished Flying Cross. In conjunction with his duties as a pilot he also served as an operations officer prior to his honorable discharge from active service at the rank of 1st Lieutenant on May 12, 1955.
After the war he returned home to Brattleboro and went to work at the American Optical Company and later for the U.S. Postal Service working out of the Brattleboro Main Street Post Office where he retired from following many years of faithful service with the post office.
Mr. Watson was a member of the American Legion, Brattleboro Post #5, and the National Association of Retired Federal Employees. He enjoyed golf and held membership in the Brattleboro Country Club.
With his wife he was a longtime member of First Baptist Church in Brattleboro.
Mr. Watson enjoyed gardening, sports in general, antiquing and had a deep love for dogs.
On October 7, 1951 in Brattleboro he was married to Helen K. Martin. His faithful and devoted wife of 56 years predeceased him on April 6, 2008.
Mr. Watson is survived by several nieces and nephews as well as his extended family at the Bradley House Residential Care Facility.
He was predeceased by one sister, Sylvia Elizabeth and four brothers, Verne Lyndon, Harold William, Clarence and Ray.
Funeral services will be conducted Sunday at 1:00 P.M. at the Atamaniuk Funeral Home with Pastor Suzanne Andrews of First Baptist Church officiating. Committal services and burial with full military honors will be held in Morningside Cemetery later in the springtime when the cemetery reopens.
In lieu of flowers memorial contributions in Mr. Watson's name may be made to The Bradley House, 65 Harris Avenue, Brattleboro, VT 05301.