Dedicated to the Preservation of the
U.S. Air Force Helicopter History
Watson D. Burnfield, Colonel, USAF (Retired)October 09, 1932 – February 16th, 2017
Colonel (Ret) Watson D. Burnfield passed away on February 16th, 2017 at the age of 84. He was born in Marietta, Ohio on October 9, 1932 to Ira and Lucy Mae Burnfield.
He spent his childhood and early adult life in Athens, Ohio where he graduated from high school and college. Entering the Air Force in 1954 from the R.O.T.C program at Ohio University, he spent his next 30 years of loyal and dedicated service to his country. After completing officer orientation at Lackland AFB, he entered flying training at Hondo Air Base.
Returning to Athens in December of 1954, he married his high school sweetheart Nona Green, to whom he was happily married to for 52 years. Mrs. Burnfield passed away suddenly in August, 2007.
The Burnfield’s have three children, son Dean of San Antonio, daughter Lori and husband Matt Smith of McKinney Texas and son David and wife Wendy Burnfield of Aubry, Texas. They have 5 grandchildren: Chris, Meghan and Tyler Smith and Taylor and Kyle Burnfield and one great granddaughter – Charlotte Smith. Brother – Ret. Brig. General Charles Burnfield and wife Sandy Burnfield of Cumming, GA. Also survived by numerous nieces and nephews.
Colonel Burnfield’s early military days were spent flying. He was a command pilot accumulating over 5,500 hours of flying time in many different types of aircraft, including helicopters. In 1963 he served as a Minuteman Missile Crew Commander at Whiteman AFB, where along with his military duties, he earned his MBA degree from the University of Missouri. In 1968 he was assigned to Da Nang Air Base, Vietnam, where he became the chief helicopter pilot for the famed “Jolly-Green Giant” Air Rescue Squadron. He flew over 250 helicopter missions over Vietnam and was credited with saving over 6 lives according to an Air Force news release. Back to the US in 1969, he returned to Vietnam many times flying C-141 aircraft from Robbins AFB, GA. His many decorations included the Defense Superior Service Award, the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross, Meritorious Service Medal and the Air Medal with 11 oak leaf clusters.
After retiring in October 1984, he spent many hours of volunteer work, first as an income tax advisor and then at N.E. Baptist hospital. A longtime resident of Windcrest, Texas; he was elected as their Mayor in 1989 and served for six years in this capacity. While Mayor, he served on San Antonio’s Metro Planning Organization, represented Bexar County cities on the Alamo Area Council of Governments, and in 1994 was elected Chairman, Bexar County Council of Mayors. He was also a lifetime member of Masonic Paramuthia Lodge #25 – Athens, Ohio. He served on the Board of Directors of The Ronald McDonald House and is an alumni of Delta Tau Delta Fraternity. In 2006 the Burnfield’s moved to the Army Residence Community where he continued to enjoy gardening and playing golf at Windcrest. After the passing of Nona, he married Claudia Milam in 2009 where they continued to reside and enjoy living at the ARC. Other survivors include; sister-in-law and brother-in-law Marcia and Len Cochran and sister-in-law Ruth Branchick of Tacoma, WA.
Visitation will be held on Tuesday February 28th, 2017 from 6:00pm-8:00pm at Colonial Funeral Home in Universal City. Funeral Services will take place on Wednesday, March 1st, 2017 at 12:30pm at Colonial Funeral Home with interment to follow at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery with full military honors. Funeral Service will be officiated by Chaplain Ray Davis.
In lieu of flowers, please make memorials to the American Heart Association http://www.heart.org, Alzheimer’s Foundation for Research http://www.alzfdn.org/?, or M.D. Anderson Hospital Cancer Research www.mdanderson.org.
~ GUEST BOOK ~
Tuesday, February 21, 2017I had the pleasure of serving as a Police Officer for the City of Windcrest during Mr Burnfield’s terms as Mayor. My condolences to the family and friends during this time. Lt W. Dale Clark, Windcrest PD (Retired)~Dale Clark, San Antonio, Texas
Monday, February 20, 2017Our deepest sympathy to the family. May God bless you all with peace and comfort.~Lee
Friday, February 17, 2017Claudia, We are very saddened by Watson’s passing. Please accept our deepest concern and condolences.~Wade and Sharon Taylor, San Antonio, Texas