Born Nov. 14, 1945 in St. Louis, Mo., he was the son of the late Lindell Watkins and Oniece Embrey Watkins.
As a native of St. Louis, Mo., Robert Watkins enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in February 1966. In March of 1967, he was selected to attend Officer Candidate School and commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in June 1967.
Upon completion of the Basic School, he underwent flight training in Pensacola, Fla. and was designated a Naval Aviator in January 1969. He was assigned to 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, Santa Ana, Calif. where he was trained as a CH-46 helicopter pilot. In June, 1969, he reported for duty with Marine Aircraft Group 16, 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in the Republic of Vietnam where he served as the Assistant Operations Officer. Upon completion of his tour in Vietnam, he was assigned to Pensacola, Fla. as a Flight Instructor, where he was promoted to the rank of Captain.
In July 1973, he was selected for the College Degree Program and attended Embry Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Fla., receiving his Bachelor of Science Degree in Aeronautical Science in December 1974.
Upon completion of his degree, he had subsequent tours with Marine Aircraft Group 36, serving as a Quality Control Officer and as the Assistant Officer in charge of Sub-Unit 2, Headquarters and Maintenance Squadron 36 in Atsugi, Japan. In March 1976, he was transferred to 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, New River, North Carolina where he served as the Group NATOPS Officer. He was transferred to HMT-204 in July 1976, where he served as the Assistant Aircraft Maintenance Officer and Assistant Operations Officer and was promoted to the rank of Major. He was subsequently assigned to MAG-26 where he coordinated the design and development of the CH-46E Flight Simulator Training Device, which is currently used throughout the Marine Corps.
From June 1979 through June 1980, he attended the Air Command and Staff College, Maxwell Air Force Base, Montgomery, Ala.
Upon graduation, he was assigned to Marine Helicopter One, Quantico, Va.. During this tour, he served as the S-4 Officer, Operations Officer and Presidential Command Pilot and was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel.
In July 1984, he reported to the 1st Marine Aircraft Wing in Okinawa, Japan where he served as the Commanding Officer of MABS 36. After completion of his Westpac tour, Lieutenant Colonel Watkins was assigned as the Commanding Officer, Marine Barracks, Naval Air Station, North Island in August 1985.
In August 1988 he reported to 3rd Marine Air Wing as the Director of Safety. He was promoted to the rank of Colonel in February 1989.
In July 1990 he reported to MAG-16 as the Executive Officer. In September of 1990 he was assigned as the Commanding Officer of MAG-16 (Rear) during Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield. In April 1991 he was reassigned as the Executive Officer of MAG-16.
In August 1991 he was transferred to Headquarters Marine Corps where he assumed duty as Director of Total Quality Leadership (TQL). In June 1992 he was assigned Installation and Logistics as the Branch Head for Land Use and Military Construction (LFL) where he supported the Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC).
Col. Watkins retired in June 1996 having served 30 years in the Marine Corps.
In 1996 Col. Watkins was employed with Bell Helicopter Textron where he was primarily involved in the V-22 "Osprey" program at NAS Pax River in Southern Maryland. He retired from Bell Helicopter in 2005.
Col. Watkins's decorations and awards include the Silver Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Medal with Numeral 42, Navy Unit Commendation, Meritorious Unit Commendation, and numerous other unit awards, Presidential Service Certificate and Presidential Service Badge.
Survivors include his wife of 39 years, Jane L. Watkins of California, Md, two children, Lisa Watkins of Oakton, Va., and Michael Watkins of Pasadena, Calif., five brothers and sisters, Sue Hover of Harviell, Mo., Ron Watkins of Hendersonville, NC, Roy Watkins of Sikeston, Mo., Glen Watkins of Bernie, Mo., and Linda Davis of Haleyville, Ala.
In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by his sister, Shirley Wolters.
A Graveside Service will be conducted on Thursday, June 28, 2007 at 9 a.m. in Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Va.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in his memory to Injured Marines Semper Fi Fund, http://semperfifund.org/1ssDIY/howHelp.p....
Arrangements by the Brinsfield Funeral Home, P.A., 22955 Hollywood Road, Leonardtown, Md. 20650.