By Elliott Francis
Lt Col.Spann Watson, one of 160 original black World War II fighter pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen, will be buried in Arlington National Cemetery this morning. He died in April.
Spann Watson was just 10-years old in 1927 when his love of flying began. His son, Weyman Watson says it was a chance encounter at an airshow featuring famed aviator Charles Lindburg.
"Unexpectedly Lindberg flew in and landed his plane during this airshow and he got to see Lindberg flying. If he didn't like airplanes before, he really liked then then," says Watson.
Watson earned his pilot's license before World War II. In 1940 he tried to enlist as a pilot. In a 2009 interview with NJ.com, Watson describes the response he got from the army recruiter.
"You don't have the brains, nor the aptitude to be flying airplanes and there are no blacks in the air force," Col. Spann Watson recalls.
The next year, Watson joined the fledgling Tuskegee program and the 99th fighter Squadron, flying 30-missions over North Africa, Italy, and Southern Europe. Weyman says today's tribute at Arlington is just what his dad hoped for.
"To go to Arlington with the type of honors he's going to receive is exactly where he would want to be," he says.
Lt. Col Spann Watson was 93 years old.