This Week In Quartermaster History
|On 8 March 1943 the U.S. Army Transport Jacob approached
Porloch Harbor, New Guinea, carrying members of the 2d Battalion, 29th Quartermaster
Regiment. When suddenly and without warning they came under devastating attack by Japanese
bombers. The Jacob took two direct hits, pitched forward and began to capsize, as
all onboard were ordered to abandon ship.
One of the soldiers, Private George Watson, a QM laundry and bath specialist, being a good swimmer, declined a life preserver. He immediately jumped into the water instead and began rescuing his injured comrades, and pulled to safety several who could not swim or were too paralyzed with fear to even try. Back and forth he went across that deadly scene dragging his fellow soldiers to waiting rafts until, completely exhausted, he was pulled down by the tow of the sinking ship, and drowned.
Private Watson, QMC, was the first African American soldier in World War II to be awarded the Distinguished Service Cross. Fifty-three years later, in a White House ceremony on 13 January 1997, President William J. Clinton bestowed on this Quartermaster hero the highest honor our grateful nation has to offer the Medal of Honor. Today that medal resides in the Quartermaster Museum at Fort Lee, Virginia.
Compiled by the
U.S. Army Quartermaster Corps Historian
Fort Lee, Virginia