Semper K9 is proud to accept Salty, a 10-month-old lab mix, into our Service Dogs for Veterans program. Salty comes to us from the Prince William Humane Society and was rescued by them from our local animal shelter. Salty is named in memory of United States Air Force Maj. William “Salty” Watkins III.
William Watkins tried to experience as much of life as he could in his 37 years on this earth. As a boy growing up in rural South Boston, Va., Watkins dreamed of flying, said his uncle Jeff Haley. But Watkins also wanted to sail the ocean, perform on stage, sing in the choir and play football. “He truly enjoyed life,” his uncle said.
Watkins served 12 years in the Navy as a flight officer. He graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1989. He attended Woodberry Forest School, near Orange, Va., where he played football, sang in the school choir and was active in drama. “He was such a model for so many people,” another uncle, Tucker Watkins, said. “He was the peacemaker in the family. Even as a kid, he was the adult in the group.”
Watkins was assigned to the 333rd Fighter Squadron based at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. He had transferred into the Air Force from the Navy to be near his wife, Air Force Maj. Melissa Watkins, an intelligence officer.
On April 7, 2013, Watkins was killed in action while flying a combat mission near Tikrit, Iraq. Watkins was one of two officers killed when the jet went down. The pilot, Capt. Eric Das of Amarillo, Texas, also passed.
He is survived by his wife and two children, one of whom was unborn at the time of his death, as well as his mother and two siblings. “Bill’s legacy will continue in the lives of his two children as it will in the memories that each of us holds dear of this truly caring and loving man,” Melissa Watkins said in a written statement.
Helen Younce, a family friend, shared this with Semper K9;
“Bill is known to different friends by different names. He is Bill to many of us, William to others, and Salty to those who knew him in the Air Force because of the time he’d spent in the Navy. No matter what we called him, he was our friend.