Three-War Veteran Gets His Wish of a Lifetime
From the picture of his wife of 62 years to his POW/MIA and American flags, most of Bill Watson’s greatest accomplishments plaster the walls of his Raymore apartment.
“Boom,” said Watson. “A bullet came through the wind screen, right passed my ear and out the back. I had a lot of bullets come passed me, but this one got my attention.”
That was during World War II. Watson would go on to serve in the Korean War where he barely survived 837 days as a prisoner of war. He was one of only a few hundred to survive brutal treatment from the Chinese Army which included walking almost 1,000 miles in seven months and nearly starving to death. He recalls most of his meals in those days consisted of grass, tree leaves, rodents and even rotting flesh from roadkill. Then a few years later, he found himself in South Vietnam during their war.
While most would want to forget the gruesome memories of war, Watson hoped to bring them full circle by paying tribute to the tens thousands of Americans who died in the three wars he fought in.
That life dream just came true with a free trip to Washington, D.C. to visit each National Memorials for the three wars he served – the WWII Memorial, the Korean War Memorial and the Vietnam War Memorial.
“I broke down and cried like a baby,” recalled Watson when he first set eyes on the Korean War Memorial. “My greatest wish was to go see where I had left all these boys. I use those words – I left them there. I lost a lot of men. I saved a lot of men.”
Bills experience was made possible thanks to Jeremy Bloom’s Wish of a Lifetime. The foundation grants seniors the chance to fulfill a lifelong dream.
“I’ve done everything; been everywhere,” said Watson. “But, this outdid everything else that came before.”
While Watson will never be able to forget the years of atrocities he witnessed, he said his wish of a lifetime makes them easier to accept.