Friday, January 27, 2023

Avenue of Heroes: Lieutenant Commander Thomas “Poolie” Watson

Written by: Retired CAPT Dave Schnell

LCDR Thomas “Poolie” Watson was born in Cadillac, Michigan, in February 1932 to Richard Poole Watson and Pauline Anne Ovaitt. He graduated from Cadillac High School in 1950 and immediately reported to the U.S. Naval Academy. Four years later, he graduated and was commissioned an ensign in the US Navy. Ensign Watson attended flight school in Pensacola, Florida, and proudly pinned on his Wings of Gold.

After flight school, he transferred to Naval Air Station North Island in Coronado, California, and reported aboard All Weather Attack Squadron 35. After deploying to the Western Pacific aboard USS Shangri-La for six months, he made his second WESTPAC deployment aboard USS Ticonderoga. Lt. j.g. Watson then returned to NASNI as a fighter pilot. Follow-on assignments included flight instructor and training officer in Pensacola, Florida and Glynco, Georgia. In 1963, he deployed for more than 14 months to the South Atlantic and Mediterranean where he qualified as a Surface Warfare Officer. After his deployment, Lt. Cmdr. Watson was assigned as executive officer of Composite Squadron 5 in Okinawa, Japan. Subsequent assignments included Fleet Combat Direction Systems Support Activity in Point Loma, California, and Tactical Air Control Squadron 1 in Coronado.

In 1969, newlyweds Watson and his wife, Kirby, celebrated the birth of their first son, Robb. A year later, their second son, Rick, was born three days after Christmas. In 1971, the Watsons purchased their home of 50-plus years on E Avenue, and their sons began attending Coronado schools. Lt. Cmdr. Watson retired in June 1974 with 20 years of service, many deployments, and credits toward a Master of Business Administration in
finance earned through night school. Along with being an active youth soccer coach, member of the Crown and Lions Clubs, and real estate investor, Watson spent his retirement working as an energy manager for SDG&E, an energy auditor for the Southland Corporation, and finally joining his sons in managing and operating the family ground transportation business, Avant-Garde Global Transportation.

“Poolie” and Kirby enjoy hosting family and friends at their home and spending time with granddaughter, Maddie. Summer Concerts in the Park and Fourth of July continue to be family favorite activities.

The Hometown Banner Program is a military service recognition program sponsored by the City of Coronado. Introduced in 2014, the program has honored 218 hometown heroes. On Nov. 5, 2022, another 12 will be honored. The City funds all the costs for the program. City staff and volunteers from the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 2422, the Coronado Historical Association and the Third and Fourth Streets Neighborhood Association oversee its operation. In 2011 the inspiration for the program came spontaneously with the movement of two Navy SEALs to their final resting place. News spread quickly in Coronado. The local Rotary Club passed out American flags. People lined Fourth Street to honor the fallen service members. As the procession approached the San Diego-Coronado Bridge, a lone Navy SEAL stood at attention, saluting as he waited for the passage of his comrades. At that moment, it was clear that Third and Fourth streets were already an Avenue of Heroes. From that spontaneous beginning, the program was launched in May 2015 with 18 banners. Ceremonies are held twice yearly and men and women with ties to the community have been recognized from the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps. The Hometown Banner program is a reminder that Coronado has a rich history and legacy of service to country.

Managing Editor
Managing Editor
Originally from upstate New York, Dani has lived in Coronado since 1996. She is happy to call Coronado home and to have raised her children here. In her free time she enjoys reading, exercising, trying new restaurants, and just walking her dog around the "island." Have news to share? Send tips or story ideas to: [email protected]