On the eve of the Marine Corps’ 237th birthday, November 9, TFP members, supporters and friends gathered to celebrate the outstanding service and sacrifice of its military heroes. The event was graced by the distinguished presence of decorated war hero and Navy Cross recipient, Col. Gordon Batcheller, USMC (Ret.)The virtue of honor was the theme of the day and Norman Fulkerson, author of An American Knight, delivered an inspiring lecture on the topic to a full auditorium. He drew a sober contrast between the honor exhibited by men on the fateful Titanic voyage of 1912 and the cowardly behavior of the captain of the Costa Concordia who abandoned ship earlier this year.
However, the talk highlighted the importance of honor and the role of honorable men in society.After the evening lecture concluded, guests enjoyed a healthy round of home-made brick oven pizza and brew. The lively candle-lit table conversation was suddenly interrupted by rousing patriotic music. Applause erupted as the TFP marching band entered with its bagpipes, drums and brass.In keeping with tradition, Colonel Batcheller cut the cake decorated with the Marine Corps emblem with his officer’s sword.
He received the Navy Cross for his extraordinary heroism while serving in Vietnam as Marine Corps battalion commander.
On January 31, 1968, his column was ambushed by a numerically superior enemy force. The reading of the part of his citation that recorded what happened that day is very moving:
“Although injured by fragments of an exploding enemy rocket round, he aggressively led his men in a fierce assault against the enemy blocking positions, steadfastly advancing until he reached a besieged Popular Force compound. As the enemy increased the intensity of their attack, one of the Marine tanks was hit by hostile automatic weapons fire and B-40 rockets which wounded several of the crew members. Ignoring the danger from enemy rounds exploding all around him, Captain Batcheller unhesitatingly moved to the damaged vehicle to assist in removing the casualties. Simultaneously, he reorganized his force and succeeded in routing the enemy from its fortified positions. As the intensity of enemy fire to the front lessened, the column began receiving heavy automatic weapons fire from both flanks, seriously wounding Captain Batcheller in both legs.
“Exhibiting great courage and physical stamina, he supported himself on his elbows and resolutely continued to direct his men in repulsing the enemy until, weakened by the loss of blood from his serious injuries, his voice fell to a whisper. Even then, he bravely encouraged those near him as he lay receiving medical treatment. As a result of his determined efforts, National Route One was reopened, enabling the reaction force to reach the embattled city of Hue. By his exceptional heroism, outstanding tactical ability and steadfast devotion to duty at great personal risk, Captain Batcheller upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service.”
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May God continue to bless this great nation’s virtuous heroes from every walk of life.