‘Died as a hero’: Alabama politicians react to the killing of Joshua Kaleb Watson
Several Alabama politicians have spoken up to praise the actions and mourn the death of Navy Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson.
Watson, a native of Enterprise, AL, was one of three American sailors killed by Mohammed Alshamrani, a Second Lt. in Saudi Arabia’s armed forces. Alshamrani had been training with the sailors at Naval Air Station in Pensacola, FL. The FBI is investigating Alshamrani’s actions as a terrorist attack.
Watson’s family told the Pensacola News Journal (PNJ) that Joshua Kaleb “was a natural leader, a huge Auburn football fan and a person who put others first and strived to bring out the best in them.”
Benjamin Watson said his son, Joshua Kaleb, was the officer on deck at the time of the shooting. His son was shot at least five times, he told the PNJ on the phone.
“Heavily wounded, he made his way out to flag down first responders and gave an accurate description of the shooter,” Benjamin Watson said. “He died serving his country.”
Alabama Speaker of the House Mac McCutcheon (R-Monrovia) praised Watson, adding his “heroism” and military service will be recognized in the next session.
“Ensign Watson encompassed the very best that Alabama has to offer, and he represented his state proudly to the nation he sought to serve. All Alabamians are proud to say that Joshua Watson lived his life as a patriot, and he died as a hero,” said McCutcheon. “The Alabama House will formally recognize his heroism and his military service when we convene the regular session in February.”
U.S. Senator Doug Jones (D-Mountain Brook) tweeted, “Watson gave what President Lincoln called the ‘last full measure of devotion.’ Louise & I are heartbroken but also thankful for his service. Our thoughts are with his family today. He died a hero and we all owe his family a debt of gratitude.”
“Three of our finest, including one of our own from right here in Alabama, have been lost. There is no excuse for this, and it must never happen again. At this time, the Department of Defense should consider suspending the training of all Saudi military personnel, and review the clearly insufficient vetting processes currently in place,” former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a GOP candidate for U.S. Senate advised.
U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne (AL-01) praised Watson’s actions, which he noted “likely saved others.”
“As the investigation continues, we have learned that one of Alabama’s own acted courageously during the tragedy. While he lost his life, his actions likely saved others. We should continue to pray for his and the other victim’s families,” Byrne told Yellowhammer before calling for a re-evaluation of the screening protocols for foreign military programs.
“This American Hero spent part of his early life in Snead in Blount County. My sincere condolences to his family, some of whom are still in Blount County,” stated U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt in a tweet.
Governor Kay Ivey during an event at the capitol Monday morning said Watson “died as a hero.”
“He was the officer on the deck. Shots rang out, and he was hit five times. And despite his mortal wounds, he was able to signal and get to the first responders, to give them the precise location of the perpetrator. Young Kaleb died as a hero.”
Henry Thornton is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can contact him by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @HenryThornton95.