Obituary for Kenneth E. Watts, CMSGT, USAF (Retired)
Chief Watts was born in Claremore, OK October 18, 1931 to Amanda Mae and Lewis Jackson Watts. As a youth he attended the Church of Christ in Okemah. He attended Okemah, Okfuskee & Okmulgee County, OK schools before enlisting in the Air Force in 1947 at age 16. He completed his GED High School and entered evening and night classes at the Universities of Hawaii, Oklahoma, and Virginia during his time in the Air Force.
His postings included Texas, Colorado, Wyoming, Hawaii, South Carolina, Oklahoma, Korea, Japan, Okinawa, Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, the latter in a covert assignment while attached to the State Department. Chief Watts was awarded the Bronze Star, United Nations, Korean and Vietnam Service Medals, Meritorious Service Medal and numerous other awards and decorations. He also received classified letters of commendation from the US Ambassador to Laos and the Commander, Pacific Air Forces for his covert activities in Laos.
His post service career included twenty years with Office, Secretary of Defense, and other Defense agencies in Hawaii and in the Washington DC and overseas areas. In addition, he served as the Senior Executive Advisor to the Minister of State for Cabinet Affairs, Kingdom of Bahrain (Persian Gulf) from 1978 to 1996. He retired from federal service in May 2005.
During his twenty-three-year Air Force career he was selected on several occasions to represent his organization as the Outstanding Airman or Non-Commissioned Office of the Year. At age twenty-two he was the youngest First Sergeant in the Air Force. While serving in Vietnam he was the only enlisted man appointed by Commander, Pacific Air Forces, to serve on a Commander in Chief, Pacific board of general and flag officers convened to develop the initial withdrawal plans of forces from Southeast Asia. He was also commended by the US Ambassador to Laos and by the Commander, Pacific Air Forces for assisting the Royal Laos Air Force in a major reorganization and combat ready effort. He retired from the Air Force in 1971. Upon retirement, he joined the US Civil Service as a Management Analyst employed by HQ, Pacific Air Forces, Hickman AFB, Hawaii. He was later transferred to HQ, US Air Force, The Pentagon, where he served on the Air Staff as an Analyst.
Chief Watts was a life member of the Disabled American Veterans Chapter 9 of Winchester, VA and Post 2123, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Winchester, VA. He was also the co-founder and Vice-President of the Northern Shenandoah Valley Chapter of the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter No. 1019 of Winchester, and a member of the American Legion Post No. 21, Winchester, VA and Korean War Veterans Association, Chapter 1013, Winchester. He was a life member of the Air Force Sergeants Association and the Retired Enlisted Association. He also served as Vice President of the Tri-County SPCA and as a member of the Winchester-Frederick County Chamber of Commerce, and the Winchester Chapter of the Isaak Walton League. He was a past member of Moose Lodge No. 1283, of Winchester VA. Chief Watts was an enrolled member and Spiritual elder of the Metis’ Indian Nation of North America. He was engaged in promoting the welfare, art, history and culture of American Indians. He supported programs dealing with the War Veterans and their survivors. He was active in Toastmasters, International, and numerous Little Theater Groups. His hobbies included golf, fly fishing and short story writing.
He is survived by his wife, Donna Watts of Lake Frederick, VA; his ex-wife Betty Miyasaki of Honolulu, HI; his daughter, Denise Kuulei Watts and a grandson, Alden Katagihara and his wife Lauren Yip Katagihara of CA; sisters Karen Champion of CA and Sue Hagenswold (Bruce) of TX; a brother, Retired Judge Bob Watts (Sarah) of MO. He was preceded in death by two sisters Jerri Slagle of TX and Hazel Blevins of CA.
Viewing will be held at Jones Funeral Home on April 29, 2019 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. and with graveside services and burial on Tuesday, April 30, 2019 at 11:00 a.m. in the military section of Shenandoah Memorial Park, Winchester VA which Chief Watts helped design.
In lieu of flowers memorial contributions may be made to the SPCA of Winchester, Frederick and Clarke Counties, 111 Featherbed Lane, Winchester, VA 22601 or Parkinson’s Foundation, Winchester Support Group, Winchester Church of God, 2080 N. Frederick Pike, Winchester, VA 22603.