Rock Island, Ill. - Co-workers and family paid tribute to an 87-year-old logistics management specialist with 63 years of service at a retirement ceremony held here Sept. 26.

John W. Watson retired from his work on supply catalogs supporting tool sets and kits at the TACOM Life Cycle Management Command

"We celebrate a 63 year career of service to the U.S. Army. It is a career that is longer than I am old. What tremendous commitment and dedication," said Wayne Schaaf, director of the Tools Product Support Integration Directorate, who presided over the ceremony.

Watson served in the Army Air corps from 1941 to 1945. From 1949-1978 he was an instrument repair technician at Rock Island Arsenal. In 1979 he began work at TACOM as an equipment specialist on the Vulcan Air Defense System, and in 1992 he became a logistics management specialist.

"You are at that place we all look forward to - - a long and pleasant retirement. Thank you for your years of dedicated service. A lot of people talk about history. You've lived it," said Ken Hiltunen, Director of Combat Support and Combat Service Support Readiness and Sustainment.

Hiltunen presented Watson with a certificate of appreciation from the Product Manager for Sets, Kits, Outfits and Tools, a flag box, a photo of Arsenal Island signed by his co-workers, a chocolate tool set, and a photo album from his co-workers.

Lt. Col. Brian Tachias, PM SKOT, marveled at Mr. Watson's career. "He's got the energy of a 35-year-old, coming to work every day doing the hard stuff, and makes sure Soldiers in the field are being supported...Tom Brokaw wrote a book about the greatest generation. The values and honor that make America what it is today are displayed by the people from John's generation," he said.

The former PM SKOT, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Carr, also voiced appreciation for Watson's service. "On behalf of the U.S. Soldier, thank you for the support you've given," Carr said.

With his wife of 58 years, Maxine, and his two sons, John Jr. and Jim, looking on, Watson thanked his co-workers. "I want to thank all of the people who've helped me do the things that I've been doing here. It is just like family. I appreciate everybody's help," said Mr. Watson.

Watson, a ham radio operator who enjoys fishing and gardening, also has two daughters and four grandchildren.