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You may have seen the photo above on the left.  It was taken in 1973 and he is RM2(SS) Bill Watson. Garry Collins posted this on our MIA/(AWOL) page some years back in an attempt to locate him. Thirty seven years and a lot of work reunited these men as the photo on the right shows. Read the story below for the details.

 

Several of us had been looking for Billy for years.  Mike Felicetti aka Felix (now deceased) and I literally called every Watson in his hometown in Indianapolis some 15 years ago and had no luck finding him.  About 8 months ago, Bucky Clark found Billy on Facebook.  He, Billy, is not a big FB user but has since added a few of us shipmates as friends.  If you're on FB, please friend him.    Billy and I spoke on the phone about six months ago for over three hours, just talking about the days on the boat and reviewing our careers.  He retired as RMCS; I went on to OCS and retired as LCDR.

We had both left JCC in September of 1976 and went to Recruiting school in Orlando, FL.  He went home to Indianapolis to recruit and I went back home to New Albany, Indiana to recruit.  The last time Billy and I saw each other was fall of 1978. I had taken my wife up to Indy to catch a train so I looked up Billy and we went out on the town.  That was the last time I saw him until Tuesday, September 2nd. I did call him in January or February of 1979 when I found out that RM2 Ray Markese had passed away in San Diego from brain cancer.

   Last month Billy told me he was going home to Indy for the Labor Day weekend so we planned on getting together as my town is just off the route he takes to get home (I-65).  We couldn't hook up on his way home so we met Tuesday as he was on the way back to SC where he currently lives and works.  We coordinated the visit via cell phone as I gave him some directions to bypass some heavy construction in Louisville so I told him just to call me when he was in Louisville and I'd meet him at a particular exit.  We met at O'Charleys in Louisville Tuesday for lunch.  I had the waiter take the picture for us.  We talked again about our days on the boats, highlighting some of our shipmates.  You know we played "Remember Him"?.  Names like Steve Kouski, Flash Farnham, WT Owens, Phillipee, Coberly,  Ed Ripley, XO Marshall, Sonny Debois, Buddha (ETC Sykes), Markese, the Lanier brothers (think you might remember them!) and many more personalities on the boat.  I gave him some photos I had made from some of the recent JCC reunions and I gave him two old pictures of him and Felix playing in the water at MT Pleasant with a raft.  We spent about an hour and a half just chatting about everything and anything.  We vowed to try and get a little mini-reunion going somewhere here in the east.  More to follow on that. 


 




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