Lieutenant Colonel (retired) Alan ‘Al’ Watts holds the family dog, Suzy. CONTRIBUTED

Lt. Col. Al Watts served in Germany, Middle East, Desert Storm

MADISON – Alan C. ‘Al’ Watts was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Field Artillery on Dec. 20, 1974.

Watts started active duty on Feb. 15, 1975. He retired as a Lieutenant Colonel in 1995.

“In lieu of basic training, I completed Ranger School at Fort Benning, Ga. as a cadet in June-August 1973. I attended Basic Field Artillery Training at Fort Sill, Okla.” in 1975,” Watts said.

After Officer Basic, he joined 1-16 FA (155mm, M109), 2nd AD, Fort Hood, Texas where he served as Forward Observer and Fire Direction Officer for C Battery, XO of A Battery, BN Ammo Officer and BN Motor Officer in 1975-1979.

“Following a short stint as Aerial Observer . . . I was assigned as BN Intelligence Officer for 3-16 FA (8 in), 8th Inf. Div., Baumholder, Germany. After being HHB Commander for that battalion, I was extended in Baumholder as 8th DIVARTY Asst. Operations Officer and extended again to 3-16 FA (8”/MLRS Composite BN) as Operations Officer,” Watts said.

Back to Fort Sill in 1985 as a Gunnery Instructor, Watts worked at Fire Support computer school (Tactical Fire Direction School) “Dean.” Major Watts moved to Zirndorf, FRG (Federal Republic of Germany) in 1988 as 1st Armored DIVARTY Asst-Operations Officer. His next assignment was 2nd Brigade, 1st Armored Division Fire Support Officer in Erlangen, Germany.

Deployed to Saudi Arabia in December 1990 as part of Desert Shield, he fought in Iraq during Desert Storm. As Desert Storm fighting ended, he assumed duties as 2-1 FA XO to deactivate the battalion in 1991.

Lieutenant Colonel Watts’ final assignment was Division Chief of Automated Fire Support Systems Division at the Field Artillery Board. He retired from the U.S. Army in June 1995.

As a defense contractor, Watts fielded force protection systems (security camaras and radars with comms) to U.S. Forward Operating Bases in Afghanistan from 2008 to 2015, deploying twice in-country. He retired in North Alabama with his wife Barbara. He worked with Nichols Research Corporation.

Watts’ awards include these medals: Bronze Star for the Gulf War; Meritorious Service (3); Army Commendation; Army Achievement; National Defense Service; Southwest Asia Service; Armed Service Reserve; Kuwait Liberation (two Bronze Stars to represent Desert Shield and Desert Storm); and Ancient Order of St. Barbara Medal. He also earned ribbons for Army Service and Overseas Service (3) and Ranger Tab.

His hometown is New Orleans, La. Watts earned a bachelor’s degree in forestry and wildlife at Louisiana State University. His master’s degrees include management, Webster University; information system management, Florida Institute of Technology or FIT; and acquisition and contract management, FIT.

His wife Barbara is from Heimbach, Germany. “All kids are in Madison, except one great-grandson in Florida. We have four kids, 10 grandchildren and six great-grandchildren,” he said.

He is Secretary, North Alabama Field Artillery Association; member, Madison American Legion, Post 229; and very active member of First Baptist Church of Madison, where he recently volunteered for Vacation Bible School with approximately 400 children.

Barbara and their children are Watts’ main priority. He does like fishing and gardening.

“I wrote two articles for the ‘Field Artillery Journal,’ Gulf War 30th anniversary in 2021 and a shorter paper for the 1st Armored Division Museum in Fort Bliss, Texas about ‘the real Gulf War heroes,’” he said.

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