ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. --
In 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed the Executive Order 9981, which instilled equal treatment and opportunity for all members of the armed forces, regardless of race, color, religion or national origin. A few years later, in 1954, segregation in the military officially ended with the disbandment of all-black units.
This opportunity allowed Ted Watson, Chief of Sustainment Service Flight assigned to the 97th Force Support Squadron, at Altus Air Force Base, Okla., to enlist the United States Marine Corps in the 1970’s and begin his career through 50-years of government service.
The first time you step into his office, you will notice his desk covered in coins received throughout his 50 years of government service. Surrounding him are the faces of many military leaders, all framed with a personalized note thanking him for is humble attributions to the service.
“My career all started when I was recommended to be the Officer Club Manager by two Air Force generals,” said Watson. “I was at Yokota, Japan at the time and I was given the choice of going to Misawa, Texas or Virginia: I chose Misawa, Japan, and my journey began from there.”
Watson served in the Marine Corps administrative supply section, working directly under U.S. Air Force generals. Throughout Watson’s career, he has served with over 20 generals, some which he still keeps in contact with today. Since this, Watson has received many opportunities to travel around the world, making the most out of each assignment.
“I have travelled all over the world, and I have enjoyed everywhere I’ve been,” said Watson. “I have been stationed at Misawa, Okinawa, Aviano, Yokota, Cannon and many other places. Everywhere I go, I try not to take a bad look on things because, in the end, it’s what you make of it.”
Watson explained how many of these generals have made a big impact in his life. The leadership, comradery and excellent wingmanship Watson witnessed during his time in service has molded him into a role model and mentor to many Airmen today.
“I hang up all of the generals photos I have worked for on my wall not for me, but to honor them,” said Watson. “Every one of these pictures, these leaders, have influenced my life in some way. This is how I show them respect and integrity, just like they have done to help me.”
After serving his time in the Marine Corps, Watson was not quite done serving his country. In 2010, Watson received the service award pin at Yokota Air Force Base, Japan, for his 40 combined years of government service. As he continues to pursue his passion for the service, 2020 marks Watson’s 50th year working for the Department of Defense.
Today, Watson continues this passion as Chief of Sustainment Services, where he is responsible for the overall wellbeing and quality of life Airmen and their families receive through managing the dining facility here.
“Overall I have had a very good career. I have gotten to experience a lot of things and work for many great leaders,” said Watson. “Of course I’ve had my ups and downs, everyone does, but the good always outweighs the bad. I have truly been blessed in my life.”
Watson is grateful for all his years of government service and the equality in the military that comes with it.
“The thing about the military is that you always have to work as a team,” said Watson. “No matter your color, race or background, you always have to have your wingman’s back and work as a team in order to get the job done while keeping everyone safe.”