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First Name: William

Last Name: Watson

Birthplace: Silver City, NM, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: U.S. Army Air Forces (1941 - 1947)

Home of Record: IL
Middle Name: Stapleton

Date of Birth: 01 May 1917

Date of Death: 04 June 1942 (Official)

MIA Date: 04 June 1942

Rank: First Lieutenant

Years Served:
William Stapleton Watson

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


William Stapleton Watson
First Lieutenant, U.S. Army Air Forces

On 4 June 1942, First Lieutenant William Stapleton Watson was serving as a Pilot of B-26B Marauder Bomber (SN 41-17570) with the 69th Bomber Squadron, 38th Bombardment Group (Medium), U.S. Army Air Forces.

On that day, 1LT Watson’s aircraft was in action against Japanese forces as part of a formation of four B-26 bombers that took of from Midway Airfield on Eastern Island armed with aerial torpedoes on a mission to attack Japanese Navy vessels during the Battle of Midway. At 0710 hours, the 4-plane formation attacked the Japanese Navy carrier force about 150 miles northwest of Midway Atoll. As the B-26 formation descended to make their torpedo attack, they were met by 2 Japanese A6M2 Zeros flying a Combat Air Patrol (CAP) and by defensive anti-aircraft fire from the carrier Akagi. 1LT Watson’s Marauder was shot down by the enemy fighters and the anti-aircraft fire. When the plane did not return, it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA). 1LT Watson’s courageous actions and extraordinary heroism that day earned him the U.S. Army's second highest award for valor, the Distinguished Service Cross.

1LT Watson and his entire crew was officially declared dead the day of the mission. The entire crew was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Service Cross (DSC), Air Medal and Purple Heart. [A copy of the DSC Citation has not been located.]

Medals, Awards and Badges

Distinguished Service Cross
Purple Heart
Air Medal
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal
World War II Victory Medal
Army Air Force Pilot Badge


The remains of First Lieutenant William Stapleton Watson have never been recovered. He is memorialized by having his name inscribed on Court 5 of the Courts of the Missing at the Honolulu Memorialin Honolulu, Honolulu County, HI.


Honoree ID: 104098   Created by: MHOH




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