CALHOUN COUNTY, Ala. (WIAT) — A Calhoun County man is calling for change after his brother was killed at a Naval base last week in Pensacola, Florida.
Adam Watson is grieving the loss of his brother, Ensign Joshua Kaleb Watson, who was one of three men killed during a shooting at Naval Air Station Pensacola. The 23-year-old was from the Enterprise area, but spent his early years in northeast Alabama.
“He wanted to be in the military since he was 5 years old,” Watson said. “He has always been dead set on that and he’s pursued that.”
Watson, a school bus driver in Calhoun County, said he was working when he learned about the mass shooting last Friday.
“I was getting ready to take some kids on a field a trip and I saw it on the news in our break room and I tried to call him and he did not answer,” he said.
Watson said that after learning his brother was in the hospital, dozens of family members rushed to Florida, but learned he had passed away.
“Words can’t describe it,” he said. “We are beyond proud of him. He is our hero.”
Watson said that despite being shot multiple times, Kaleb was able to get help.
“He was able to get out and find a first response team and inform them what building the shooter was in, what he looked like, and they were able to go stop him,” he said.
Joshua Kaleb Watson recently graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, where he was captain of the rifle team. The Alabama native had just moved to Pensacola to become a pilot in flight school.
“When we were little, I nicknamed Kaleb ‘Poot’ and they told us while we were there that they were going to give him his sign, to my knowledge, what a sign is, a lot of people have seen ‘Top Gun.’ You had ‘Maverick’ and ‘Goose’ and Kaleb’s sign is going to be ‘Poot,'” Watson said.
The shooting is being investigated as a possible act of terrorism. Watson and his family are calling to allow service members to be armed while on base.
“If my brother had had his sidearm, it would be a very different conversation,” he said. “He charged the attacker unarmed.”
The family hopes to bury Kaleb at Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo later this month. However, Watson would also like to see his brother and the two other victims, Airman Mohammed Haitham and Airman Apprentice Cameron Walters, receive the Purple Heart for their sacrifice.
“They deserve every honor and award they could possibly bestow upon them and it still won’t be enough,” Watson said. “I’d just tell him I loved him and you know, he’s a hero.”
Watson is preparing to graduate from Jacksonville State University this weekend after plenty of encouragement from his brother.
“He’ll be there,” he said. “I’ll have something with me of his for sure. He’ll go across that stage with me. He will be in my thoughts.”
According to Watson, funeral arrangements are still in the works. Loved ones hope to honor him in Enterprise with a parade before he is buried.