Victor Ed Watts
of Navarro County, Texas


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First WWII casualty no longer a mystery man
Corsicana Daily Sun - 12/23 2001


Above, Victor Ed Watts' Purple Heart certificate, a photo of him in his sailor's uniform and, at right, a photo from his Naval training camp.Daily Sun photo/RAYMOND LINEX II



He's a mystery man no longer. Victor Ed Watts walked two miles to school with his friends, walked four miles to a friend's house to play guitar, made pin-striped overalls his fashion of choice and craved homemade bread. He loved his friends, loved his family and loved his country, enough to die for them all.

"He was quiet, very quiet. He was very gentle," 81-year-old Virginia Livingston said. "There was not a mean bone in his body."

Livingston, who still resides in Corsicana with husband Elliott, was one of the pack that walked to the Oak Valley School with Victor. One day, when he didn't show up on the railroad tracks they walked on, the pack left without him.

"I happened to look back down the track, and here came a running," Livingston said. "I could see him in those striped overalls and he had something in his hand."

That something was a white magnolia blossom off the magnolia tree that stood in his front yard. Livingston said he loved that tree, and Victor gave her that flower before they continued their walk to school.

"I'm 81 years old, but I can still see that flower," she said.

Livingston's story is just one of many Daily Sun readers have told since Dec. 7, when Tim Easley of the county's War Memorial effort admitted not a lot was known about Victor Ed Watts. Easley did know that Watts' was the first soldier from Navarro County killed in World War II, and his body remains entombed aboard the U.S.S. Arizona at Pearl Harbor.

"You hear some pretty interesting stories," Easley said.

Livingston never saw Victor again once he started attending classes at Corsicana High School. She lived in San Antonio along with Elliott when Pearl Harbor was attacked. She learned of Victor's death a day later.

Several years passed and Livingston, once an aspiring country singer, wrote a song called the "White Magnolia Tree." In it, she displayed a desire to someday throw a white magnolia blossom into the ocean near the Arizona in memory of her friend.

Personally, she never was able to do it. Through a friend, she did. Tom Unger, a veteran himself and an Arizona Memorial volunteer, played her song and tossed a white magnolia blossom into the water for her this year.

"(Victor) was just a little old country boy, pure country," Livingston said.

Some relatives remain alive. His brother, Ozell "Paul" Watts, died in January. His step-daughters, Mary Lou Holloway and Linda Kizer, still live in town. Their step-father never forgot his brother.

"Every Dec. 7 he'd sit on his bed and stare at the wall," Kizer said. "He was thinking about his brother."

Ozell Watts was older than Victor, but little brother left an indelible mark on his older sibling, the sisters said. For years "Paul," as they called him, would not talk about Victor. Later in life he opened up, they said.

"His brother was just a young person, hadn't been in long when he got on that battle ship," Holloway said.

Friends and those that remembered him from abroad sent e-mails, recalling days gone by with the quiet kid from the west side Corsicana.

"Be assured that Victor Ed Watts is not now, nor ever will be, forgotten," Lee Green of Lynnwood, Wash. said. "His name is carved forever in the plaque in the Arizona Memorial in Hawaii, as well as the huge memorial called, as I remember, the Punch Bowl, also in Hawaii. I have stood before both and honored Vic with my tears of remembrance."

It was Green that said Victor would walk four miles to his house, lugging his Dobro guitar. Green played the mandolin. It was also Green who would trade sandwiches at lunch with Victor, because Victor preferred the homemade bread Lee's mother baked.

"Few people furnished me with more treasured memories than Vic," Green said.

Phillip Gowan of Florence, S.C. wrote with tips on where to find relatives. And Billy Richards recalled talking to a Mrs. Watts, who talked on occasion about the son she lost to Pearl Harbor.

"She was a nice lady," Richards said. "I don't think she ever got over losing her son in Pearl Harbor. Her eyes would light up when she talked about him."

The memory of Victor Ed Watts is alive and well for those who knew him.

"He was a sweet boy, really good," Livingston said. "He was good to his mother, too. He loved her dearly.

"... We had a pact. My sister and I had no brothers, so we claimed him for our brother."

And she still does.

Raymond Linex II may be contacted via e-mail at [email protected] || Articles Index

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