Retired Dec. 31, 1962. Died Jan. 5, 1994.
Harold Ernest Watson was born in Farmington, Conn., Nov. 19, 1911. He graduated from high school there in 1929, and four years later received a degree in electrical engineering from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute at Troy, N.Y. That September he joined Pratt & Whitney Aircraft Company as a research engineer.
Appointed a flying cadet on Feb. 15, 1936, General Watson graduated from Advanced Flying School at Kelly Field, Texas, a year later. Assigned to the 96th Bomb Squadron at Langley Field, Va., the following year he attended the Air Corps Navigation School there. Moving to Wright-Patterson Field, Ohio, in November 1939, he performed research development and procurement work, and later was named chief of the Quality Control Division. In 1941 he received his master's degree in aeronautical engineering from the University of Michigan.
Going overseas in September 1944, General Watson was director of maintenance for the First Tactical Air Force in the European Theater of Operations. Following the war he was a test pilot of captured enemy aircraft, and headed the special mission which went into Germany to fly out the planes. Returning to Wright-Patterson Field in August 1945, General Watson was chief of the Technical Analysis Division.
One year later General Watson entered the Armed Forces Industrial College at Washington, D.C., and graduated in June 1947. He was then an industrial and economic adviser to the secretary of War, and five months later was appointed chief of the Strategic Targets Division at Air Force Headquarters. Returning to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, in October 1947, he was chief of the Air Technical Intelligence Center.
Assigned to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, in September 1951, General Watson was deputy assistant chief of staff for intelligence of the Allied Air Forces, Central Europe, at Fontainbleau, France. The following August he moved to Supreme Headquarters, Allied Powers in Europe, where for 14 months he directed two special groups on atomic planning. He was named assistant chief of staff for intelligence with the NATO Southern European Headquarters at Naples, Italy, in October 1953.
The following September General Watson resumed command of the Air Technical Intelligence Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
His decorations include the Distinguished Flying Cross; Air Medal; Bronze Star; French Croix de Guerre with palm and brevet; Militaire de Pilote D'Avion; and Czechoslovakian Medal of Merit. He is a member of the American Institute of Aeronautical Engineering, and, from 1933 to 1942 was a member of the American Institute of Electrical Engineering. He is rated a command pilot.
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
Commissioned a second lieutenant in the Reserve June 20, 1937, he was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Regular Army Oct. 1, 1938; promoted to first lieutenant (temporary) Sept. 9, l940; to first lieutenant (permanent Oct. 10, 1941; to captain (temporary) Feb. 1, 1942; to major temporary) March 1, 1942; to major (permanent) Jan. 6, 1943; to lieutenant colonel (temporary) Jan. 9, 1943; to colonel (temporary) Sept. 16, 1944; to lieutenant colonel (permanent) July 1, 1948; to colonel (permanent) July 23, 1952; to brigadier general (temporary) July 30, 1954.