Wilson D. Watson

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Wilson Douglas Watson
Nickname(s) Doug
Born (1922-02-16)February 16, 1922
Tuscumbia, Alabama
Died December 19, 1994(1994-12-19) (aged 72)
Russellville, Arkansas
Buried at Russell Cemetery (35°38′48″N 93°25′12″W / 35.64670°N 93.42000°W / 35.64670; -93.42000Coordinates: 35°38′48″N 93°25′12″W / 35.64670°N 93.42000°W / 35.64670; -93.42000)
Allegiance United States United States of America
Service/branch United States Marine Corps
United States Army
Years of service USMC (1942-1946)
USAAF (1946 - ?)
US Army (?-1966)
Rank Private (Marine Corps)
Staff Sergeant (Army)
Unit 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines

Wilson Douglas Watson (February 16, 1922 – December 19, 1994) was a United States Marine Corps private who received the Medal of Honor for his actions on Iwo Jima during World War II. He single-handedly killed 90 enemy soldiers, thus enabling his platoon to advance, earning him the name "One-Man Regiment" of Iwo Jima. After World War II, Watson continued his military service in the United States Army. At the time he retired, he held the rank of Staff Sergeant.[1][2]


Wilson "Doug" Watson was born on February 18, 1922, to Charles Watson and Ada Watson (née Posey), in Tuscumbia, Alabama.[3] He is one of twelve kids; eight brothers, three sisters. Before his enlistment in Little Rock, Arkansas, on August 6, 1942, he worked on his father's farm and completed seven years of grade school. Watson received his basic training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California, and was deployed overseas on January 24, 1943.

Serving as an automatic rifleman with Company G,[4] 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, 3rd Marine Division during the bitter fighting on Iwo Jima, Watson earned the Medal of Honor for heroism during February 26–27, 1945, when he single-handedly killed more than 90 Japanese and enabled his pinned-down platoon to continue the advance. In the attack, he was shot seven times and was hit in the shoulder by mortar fragments. He was evacuated from Iwo Jima after he suffered a gunshot wound in the neck on March 2, 1945. He previously saw action at Bougainville, Guadalcanal, and Guam.[5][6]

Private Watson was presented the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman on October 5, 1945 at the White House.

Following his discharge from the Marine Corps, he enlisted in the United States Army Air Force, and then the United States Army as a private, working as a mess hall cook. He eventually reached the rank of Staff Sergeant and finally retired from the military in 1966.

He was married to wife Patricia, whom he had two children with. Ricky (b. 1953) and Darlene (b. 1962).

Wilson "Doug" Watson died on December 19, 1994 in Russellville, Arkansas.

Medal of Honor citation[edit]

The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting the MEDAL OF HONOR to


for service as set forth in the following CITATION:

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as Automatic Rifleman serving with the Second Battalion, Ninth Marines, Third Marine Division, during action against enemy Japanese forces on Iwo Jima, Volcano Islands, 26 and 27 February 1945. With his squad abruptly halted by intense fire from enemy fortifications in the high rocky ridges and crags commanding the line of advance, Private Watson boldly rushed one pillbox and fired into the embrasure with his weapon, keeping the enemy pinned down single-handedly until he was in a position to hurl in a grenade and then running to the rear of the emplacement to destroy the retreating Japanese and enable his platoon to take its objective. Again pinned down at the foot of a small hill, he dauntlessly scaled the jagged incline under fierce mortar and machine-gun barrages and with his assistant automatic rifleman charged the crest of the hill, firing from his hip. Fighting furiously against Japanese troops attacking with grenades and knee-mortars from the reverse slope, he stood fearlessly erect in his exposed position to cover the hostile entrenchments and held the hill under savage fire for fifteen minutes, killing sixty Japanese before his ammunition was exhausted and his platoon was able to join him. His courageous initiative and valiant fighting spirit against devastating odds were directly responsible for the continued advance of his platoon and his inspiring leadership throughout this bitterly fought action reflects the highest credit upon Private Watson and the United States Naval Service.


Cultural influence[edit]

Watson was credited with giving actor John Wayne his inspiration for his "shoot from the hip" style in his films. Wayne heard of Watson's style after hearing about how Watson charged the crest of a hill on Iwo Jima, firing from his hip.[7]

See also[edit]


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Marine Corps.

  1. ^ "A Hero Among Us". World War II Magazine. May 2005. Archived from the original on May 25, 2006. Retrieved May 18, 2006. A letter about Watson's service in the Army 
  2. ^ "Third Marine Division Medal of Honor recipients". Archived from the original on November 26, 2005. Retrieved May 18, 2006. 
  3. ^ "Private WATSON, WILSON DOUGLAS". Congressional Medal of Honor Society. Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  4. ^ "3rd Marine Division Medal of Honor recipients". The Third Marine Division Association. Archived from the original on August 30, 2005. Retrieved July 15, 2006. 
  5. ^ "Wilson Douglas Watson". Who's Who in Marine Corps History. History Division, United States Marine Corps. Retrieved October 5, 2010. 
  6. ^ "6th Marine Regiment - Units - 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines". United States Marine Corps. Retrieved 13 November 2013. 
  7. ^ "The Bizarre Conversation of Representatives Robert K. Dornan (R - CA) and James M. Talent (R - MO)". Esquilax.com. 23 February 1995. Retrieved 19 March 2014.