CORPUS CHRISTI – When Pearl Harbor Survivor and LEX Volunteer Captain Robert “Bob” Batterson, USN (Ret.) walked out of his Corpus Christi home Friday afternoon, he was surprised to see the media camped out on his front lawn.
But when it was when the long line of cars filled with well wishers along with the Nueces County Police Department, Sheriff’s Office, EMS and Fire Department that he couldn’t believe what was happening.
On May 8 Batterson turned 99-years-old and to celebrate, the USS Lexington Museum hosted a special surprise drive-by birthday celebration. He was one of the first volunteers on the LEX and has been a regular there for 27 years now.
“This is the America we all love,” Batterson said. “I’m deeply impressed.
“It makes me more convinced that before I am called, I’m going to help somehow to save this country. We’ve all got to that. We have to give it our all.”
Batterson is a Pearl Harbor survivor and also served during WWII aboard the USS Bennington (CV-20), a sister ship to the USS Lexington (CV-16). He flew the F6F Hellcat as part of VF-1 (Fighter Squadron 1). During his time in the Navy, he achieved the rank of CAPT (O-6) and retired after 26 years of honorable service.
Batterson hasn’t lost his sense of humor over the years either. When asked what it was like being 99-years-old he joked, “You reach 99 and you begin to think, ‘Is anyone listening to me or are they saying I’m just an old man, go along with it.’
“I am extremely pleased to be here, because I’m convinced that God has taken care of me so we’ll be able to do something to save our country. And we’ll do it this November.”
With a huge grin on his face, Batterson waved and saluted fellow military men and women, neighbors, strangers, city and county officials all who all drove by to wish him a happy birthday.
And ever the patriot, when the cars rolled away and the street emptied, when asked what he thought about the whole thing, he simply said, “All I can say is to get involved and protect your country. Don’t assume someone is going to do it for you. You’ve got to start doing it yourself.”