b. 1915 Birmingham, Alabama. d. 08/03/1943 Papua New Guinea.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 08/03/1943 Porlock Harbour, New Guinea.
A resident of Birmingham, Alabama, 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 U.S. Army controlled chartered Dutch steamer '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 veterans of World War II. Only one of the recipients, Vernon J. Baker, was still alive to receive his award in person.
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pride in presenting the Medal of Honor (Posthumously) to Private George Watson, United States Army, for extraordinary heroism in action on 8 March 1943, while serving with 29th Quarter Master Regiment, in action at Porloch Harbor, New Guinea. Private Watson was on board a ship which was attacked and hit by enemy bombers. When the ship was abandoned, Private Watson, instead of seeking to save himself, remained in the water assisting several soldiers who could not swim to reach the safety of the raft. This heroic action, which subsequently cost him his life, resulted in the saving of several of his comrades. Weakened by his exertions, he was dragged down by the suction of the sinking ship and was drowned. Private Watson's extraordinarily valorous actions, daring leadership, and self-sacrificing devotion to his fellow-man exemplify the finest traditions of military service.
BURIAL LOCATION: BODY LOST - MANILA AMERICAN CEMETERY, MANILA, PHILIPPINES.
NAMED ON MEMORIAL.
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