Regretfully, board member Chief James “Patches” Watson passed away the evening of October 25, 2013. He was a good man who cared deeply for his family, his friends and the UDT-SEAL Museum. He served on our board of directors for years and has also been our Director Emeritus. In his unofficial role, he has been host to many here at the Museum and in his home and was always an entertaining companion—you wanted Jim by you, whether down range or at a local watering hole. Chief is survived by his wife Lynda and children, James D. Watson IV, Angel Watson Atkins, Patricia Watson Parte, Jean Watson Swayze and Samantha Watson, along with grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Photos courtesy of Erasmo “Doc” Riojas

“I was proud to call ‘Chief’ my friend,” said Rick Kaiser, Executive Director of the Museum. “From Day One when I came to the Museum as executive director, he had my back and let it be known to everyone that if they messed with me, they would also be messing with him–(‘messed’ is the politically correct term). Even after the government shut down and we lost support from the active duty folks for this year’s Muster, he volunteered to jump in with me for the demonstration. He said, ‘Rick this has happened before and we can still put on a good show.’ He was a Kick Ass SEAL to the end.”

Chief Watson is an original plank owner of SEAL Team Two and, as one of the original “men with green faces,” served five tours in Vietnam. For his valor there, he earned sixteen combat decorations, four of which are Bronze Stars, all with Combat “V”. His twenty year Navy career included twenty-five training schools, eleven years on the SEAL teams, including serving as a CIA-sponsored advisor to the Provincial Reconnaissance Unit (PRU) Program in South Vietnam. These units investigated and attacked covert communist operations in South Vietnam. He also served with the Vietnamese LDNN (Lien Doc Nguoi Nhai, Vietnamese SEAL counterparts trained by the U.S. in eleven missions into Cambodia.

Chief Watson wrote Point Man and Walking Point, published by William Morrow and Company, and co-produced a video of SEAL tactics used in Vietnam Ambush! He earned his nickname “Patches” when Dick Marcinko modeled the pointman in the Rogue Warrior series on him.

“Extremely loyal, intense and patriotic, ‘Jimbo’ always called life as he saw it–shooting straight from the hip,” said David Godshall, Chairman of the Board at the Museum. “Over many years, Jim and his wife Lynda hosted thousands of frogs and non-frogs at both his annual home gatherings before Muster and Saturday night ‘beer bashes’ at SEAL Team Zero on North Hutchinson Island, where he united all with his ‘toasts and roasts,’ occasional belly dancing or by simply shouting ‘fire in the hole!’ Jimbo was truly one of a kind, always giving his best and celebrating life full-throttle along the way. He will be sorely missed here by many, but most welcomed by the big frog in the sky.” David speaks for many when he saluted Chief: “Hoo-yah, Jimbo! BZ!”

Chief Watson remained a passionate patriot, friend and “swim buddy” to many. A visit to his website (http://www.realseal.org/) gives you some glimpse into the character of our beloved friend and drinking buddy.