A lasting marker of remembrance for a World War II hero and Pearl Harbor survivor will be placed at the Coastal Bend State Veterans Cemetery.
In his 102 years of life, Captain Robert 'Bob' Batterson touched the hearts of many who came to pay their respects at the Coastal Bend State Veterans Cemetery on Wednesday. He received full military honors at his funeral on Wednesday.
"Knowing that so many people in the United States of America and even the world are honoring him, that's amazing." nrighbor Richard Harrell said. "He loved God and he loved this country. That's why I could call him my friend."
Many veterans in the community also created a bond with Batterson.
"He was a navy man and I was an army man," Jose N. Mendez said. "I was very honored to meet a man like Bob. Him and I would kid around our age. I'm 98 years old, he was 102. He has four years over me, and I used to kid with him, Bob I'm gonna catch up with you really quick."
Batterson passed away on Aug. 11 and his death was a hard loss for the Coastal Bend. However, community members believe there are some ways to keep his love and passion for the country alive.
"We need to learn to get along, get together, spend more time respecting the veterans, get the youth, the new generation and youth to learn what war is all about." Mendez said.
Former United States Navy Captain Bob Batterson, who is believed to be the last remaining Pear Harbor survivor in Corpus Christi, passed away on August 11 at the age of 102.
Batterson was just a 20-year-old sailor in the Navy when he was stationed at Pearl Harbor. December 7, 1941, is a day that Bob Batterson would never forget.
“Just imagine you were having breakfast with your family Sunday morning, and suddenly there was a loud explosion. Your house is being blown up," said Batterson during a KRIS 6 interview in May of 2021.
Batterson served 30 years volunteering his time on the USS Lexington, where he would provide valuable insight into the Pearl Harbor exhibit, passing along over a century of wisdom to thousands of visitors.
Bob Batterson earned his Navy aviation wings at Naval Air Station- Corpus Christi in 1944. The 102-year-old Pearl Harbor survivor was recently honored by the Blue Angels Flight Leader and Commanding Officer Brian C. Kesselring in April 2021. Batterson was also given a pin from the Leapfrog's Navy Parachute Team.
Bob Batterson also played a key role in the KRIS 6 News documentary "Summer of '42: The Coastal Bend Goes to War." The documentary shed light on how Corpus Christi's military base was an important factor after Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in late 1941.
Professional photographer Jeff Rease made a stop in the Coastal Bend to record first-hand accounts from Bob Batterson, who recalled a grandstand view of Japanese warplanes initiating the attack on Pearl Harbor.
Rease said with the last remaining Pearl Harbor survivors in their final years of life, personal eyewitness accounts from these aging heroes are becoming more difficult to find and record.
Rease said," It’s living history. We can’t reach all of the veterans. I’m glad I can reach those who I’m getting to."
It has been photographer Jeff Rease's mission, just like it was Bob Batterson's, to preserve World War veterans' stories of perseverance and survival with future generations.