WATSON, ROBERT O., Staff Sergeant, # 39022510, USAAF
Robert O. Watson was born 6 November 1908 in Pierce County, Washington, to Robert Freeman Watson (born Canada – 1872-1944), and Mary Cameron “Minnie”(Dalrymple) Watson (1873-1967). Siblings included Arthur Deckman Watson (1898-1992), Frederick Blake Watson (1898-1982), Richard Farnell Watson (1899-1959), John Glenville “Glen” Watson (1901-1969), Edith Freemont Watson (1904- ), Ethel Marguerite (1906- ), Francis Lloyd (1910- ), Philip Crowell Watson (1912- ), and Elizabeth Jean Watson. His wife was Dorothy E. (Wilson) Watson and a daughter was Cheryl Joy (Watson) Woods (1937-1989).
He enlisted on 10 March 1942 at Fort MacArthur, San Pedro, California. On 25 January 1944, a B-24D, # 42-73242, “Haley’s Comet” (named after Lt Roger F. Haley) (converted to ferry passengers and cargo – SSgt Watson was a passenger), departed Chabua, India, at 7:40 a.m., to fly to Kunming, China. It was assigned to the 425th Bomb Squadron of the 308th Bomb Group. At 10:45 a.m., the formation of five B-24Ds “was forced to break up due to extreme instrument weather conditions.” All five aircraft crashed; B-24D, # 41-23889, crashed near Jorhat, Arunachal Pradesh, India. Crews parachuted from two and a third, which crashed, had two survivors. The fourth and fifth, “Hot as Hell” and “Haley’s Comet,” disappeared, the crews presumed dead (Tara Copp, Stars & Stripes, 8 Apr 2016). Haley’s Comet was found eventually. The bomber was mentioned in China Up and Down by John T. Foster. A memorial is in the Manila American Memorial & Cemetery, Philippines. Images next page.