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For immediate release: February 20, 2007
For further information contact: Marsi L. Perkins

Monmouth Superior Court Celebrates Black History Month With Local Tuskegee Airman George Watson Sr.

Retired Air Force Sgt. George Watson Sr. will share his experiences as a Tuskegee Airman at the Monmouth Vicinage Black History Month Program on Friday, Feb. 23, 2007. The event, sponsored by the Monmouth Vicinage EEO/AA Advisory Committee, will be held from noon to 2 p.m. in the jury assembly room of the Monmouth Vicinage Courthouse, 71 Monument Park, Freehold.

"The outstanding service of the Tuskegee Airmen shattered racial barriers and prejudices in both the military and the minds of the American people. We are eager to hear Mr. Watson's inspirational story," said Assignment Judge Lawrence M. Lawson.

Trial Court Administrator Marsi L. Perkins expressed her gratitude for Mr. Watson's attendance and added, "The Tuskegee Airmen are an important part of American history, so it is wonderful that we can hear about and honor their contributions."

The Tuskegee Airmen were the nation's first black military airmen. Nearly 1,000 black aviators and ground crew members successfully completed their training at Tuskegee Army Air Field in Tuskegee, Alabama, between 1941 and 1946, with 450 fighter pilots serving overseas during World War II. Their bravery, courage, and skill may best be illustrated by more than 200 heavy bomber escort missions, in which they never lost a bomber to an enemy fighter. Despite their remarkable achievements and devoted service, these black servicemen experienced continued racism and bigotry. In 1948, President Harry S. Truman took the first step toward desegregating the military with an executive order that mandated equal treatment and opportunity in all of the U.S. armed forces.

Sent to Tuskegee in 1942, George Watson, Sr. served in the 96th Service Group, an all-black unit of specialists who helped make the experiment of the Tuskegee Airmen a reality. For every pilot, there were 10 ground support people who played critical roles in keeping the 332nd Fighter Group airborne. While in Italy during the war, Mr. Watson took part in a daring unauthorized procurement mission, known as Operation Fuel Tanks, in which a convoy hijacked a train to obtain essential tanks for a crucial bombardment.

Mr. Watson attended grade schools in Neptune, Asbury Park, and Lakewood, and graduated from Lakewood High School and later Ohio State University. He has received countless awards for his 26 years of service and will soon be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal, the most distinguished civilian award. In the 1950's, Mr. Watson served as an aircraft and missile electrician at McGuire Air Force Base in New Jersey and was the first black recruiter for the Army and Air Force in Trenton, Lakewood, and Asbury Park. After military service, he spent 15 years with the New Jersey Bell Telephone Company and is the author of two books, Memorable Memoirs and A Salute to the Beginning.

This program is free and open to the public. Anyone interested in attending should contact Sharon Andresen at 732-677-4097, or email at

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