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Area's lone Pear Harbor survivor compares experience to 9/11

Posted at 12:10 PM, May 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-10 13:10:18-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It's believed that Bob Batterson is Corpus Christi's last remaining Pearl Harbor survivor and saw first-hand the Japanese attack on Hawaii.

He’s reminded of that day 80 years ago, whenever he thinks of another event which happened 60 years later.

“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.

Batterson wasn't having breakfast when the Japanese attacked December 7, 1941. He was in his barracks, thinking his Sunday morning was just ruined by a drill.

He quickly learned it was no drill.

“Torpedo planes, they were already at release height when they flew by,” Patterson recalled. “We watched them drop torpedo after torpedo.”

That act propelled the United States into World War II, and as Batterson says, galvanized the country.

“We came together as opposed to what's happened since your Peal Harbor,” he said.

Batterson is referring to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. That attack sparked the U.S. war in Afghanistan, where our troops are still in harm's way.

“We beat the enemy, he surrendered unconditionally in four years,” Patterson said of defeating Japan ion World War II. “We're still fighting the war going on 20 years.”

Batterson believes japan was defeated in a relatively short time because Pearl Harbor brought the nation together. He says while people came together after 9/11 that togetherness quickly faded.

“I’m very concerned about it, very concerned,” Patterson said. “:I’ve spoken to this for years.”

It's a topic Batterson regularly brings up with visitors to the USS Lexington. Batterson volunteers in the Pearl Harbor exhibit, providing valuable insight and passing along a century of wisdom.

“We've got to come together to meet the challenge of the future,” Patterson said.

Batterson turned 100 years old Saturday and was honored with a celebration about the Lex.