Joseph A. Watts
Wednesday, April 10, 2013 1:00 PM
Joseph Anderson Watts, Commander, United States Navy, retired, of Canton, died on April 4, 2013. Services were held Saturday, April 6, 2013, at the First United Methodist Church with interment in the Canton Cemetery. He was born on Jan. 12, 1922, in Nashville, Tenn.
He joined the U.S. Navy on Dec. 9, 1941, just two days after Pearl Harbor was bombed. His first duty was at the University of Georgia "pre-flight," then to St. Louis for flight school. He graduated in August 1942 in Pensacola, Fla. where he earned his gold wings.
In September 1943, while piloting a PBY-5 on a bombing mission, he and his crew of 12 sank a Japanese submarine that caused him & his crew to crash into the gulf 700 nautical miles from land. After 4 days and nights in a life raft in the Pacific, the crew was picked up by a Dutch freighter. He spent 2 years on submarine patrol in San Diego, Calif. where he flew PBM's; then his duty was in PB2Y's, a 4 engine seaplane. He would take off every afternoon at sunset to arrive at Kaneohe Bay, Hi. by daylight.
He and his crew hauled cargo one way, then picked up medical crew and 55 severely wounded to fly them to Alameda, Calif. He served on many ships, flew many different planes, and as a tail hooker, made over 200 carrier landings during his service.
On Navy Day, November 1945, he was awarded a certificate for a World Record Takeoff in just 5.6 seconds in his PBM seaplane. He served his country with distinction for 26 years from December 1941 to November 1967. After the war, he moved to Canton, MS and married May Carolyn Smith on March 20, 1948.
He established a jewelry and gift store in 1948, where he was a watchmaker by trade. It later became known as Noble-Watts Jewelers, which is now owned and operated by his children. He is survived by his son Joe Watts, Jr. of Canton, daughter Alice Jean Hawkins of Madison, three grandchildren, three step grandchildren, six great-grandchildren. Memorials may be made to First United Methodist Church, 3301 South Liberty Street, Canton, MS 39046.