Gilbert R. Batchman 1955
Cullum No. 20596 • Aug 29, 2001 • Died in Fort Lewis, WA
Inurned in Mt. Tahoma National Cemetery, Kent, WA
Gilbert Rodney Batchman, the older son of Harold and Kathryn Batchman, drew some of his talents from his parents. His father's profession as a musician tuned Gil's ear and enriched his resonant voice to the pleasure of the Cadet Chapel Choir director. While most of us were politely thanked after a couple of off-key attempts at 'Glory to God,' Gil's mellow tones earned him slots on the Choir and Glee Club. His mothers employment as a Comptometer operator for the Navy presaged Gil's later retirement career. Gil came to the Academy through the California National Guard after a couple of years as a medical corpsman and a year at USMA's Preparatory School, where he learned the maxim by which he claimed to live: 'Relax and let it happen.' He brought his ukulele and smile through Beast Barracks to M Company, 2d Regiment, where he found a comfortable environment, sometimes called 'The North-Area-Fraternity, Mu Two."
Upon graduation, Gil married his high school sweetheart Vorece in the Cadet Chapel and began his commissioned career the same way he had run the 60-yard high hurdles: fast out of the blocks, and up and over every three steps, again and again, driving all the way to the finish. His first three steps were the Infantry School, Airborne School, and Ranger Training en route to the 23rd Infantry Division at Ft. Lewis. The division soon moved to Alaska, where Gil became the captain of their successful biathlon team. Assignments to the 82d Airborne Division and Naval Postgraduate School followed, but seeing the number of his classmates engaged in the Viet Nam War, Gil volunteered.
Perhaps it was his earlier success in the Ordnance Department's truck design final exam (he scored much higher than his more academic roommate) that inspired Gil to transfer to the Ordnance Corps. After courses at the Ordnance School and assignments at Ft. Ord, Germany, and Ft. Lewis, Gil retired. In retirement, he served as an aide to Washington State Governor Dan Evans and, later, as an assistant to Evan's successor. Several years in administrative positions followed. Then Gil struck out on his own by founding a small business called MBA, a computer services company in Tacoma. The hopes with which he began this enterprise encountered a hurdle Gil couldn't clear cleanly. He suffered a nearly fatal stroke. Recovery was long and slow, but Gil was able to travel to Colorado with Vorece for the 1998 class mini reunion, a pilot run for the 45th Reunion in 2000. Gil seemed to be back in the race and began planning a new startup company. He had already ordered business cards when a heart attack delivered the final blow.
One of his classmates recently recalled an experience with Gil in 1954: 'We were on our firstie summer tour at Ft. Benning, basking in hot Georgia sun after swimming in the Officers' Club pool. For some reason, Gil decided to wrestle, even though neither of us was built for the sport. Tussle might have been a better word. After a few minutes of making fools of ourselves by tumbling over the hard, abrasive ground, we gave up. Both of us suffered scuffed elbows and knees, and the blood oozing from our scrapes was equally red."
Vorece, his devoted wife of 46 years; their daughter Felicia and her husband Scott Miller; and the Miller's three children: Dusquene, Vorece E. and Jordan, survive Gil. 'Well done, Gil."
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From: felicia batchman
Subject: RE: usma1955: Fwd: (Fwd: Fw: Hi, I be Eboneesha!!!)
Date: Thu, 10 APR 2008 13:18:54,0700
I am not sure if i should be insulted or grateful for this note. As a daughter of a 'black' west point cadet class of '55' I watched my father butt his head against all kinds, wanting to prove his inferiority because of the color of his skin. There are many Black's who just needed a foot in the doors that were denied to them. believe me when i say, they proved themselves and more when they got in. Do not lump the ones who played the system with those of us who did, and always will play by the book. I find it insulting that there are some who still believe that this is a normal way of thinking. I know where i came from. I have been taught by the best, and will always teach my own to remember the backs of those on which we stand to be where we are today. I have read and even shared the thoughts that are posted to me. Some have helped me remember my father, and some have made me cry, and many have made me laugh. I believe that i will even vote better because of them. But as a 'black' daughter of a 'black' cadet, today i am only sad.
Felicia, daughter of Gilbert Batchman class of '55"
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To: felicia batchman
Copies to: email@example.com
Subject: usma1955: Deepest Apologies on Behalf of the Class of 1955
From: Carl H McNair
Date sent: Thu, 10 APR 2008 23:05:27,0400
I received your e mail this afternoon along with that written earlier by one of our classmates and waited until I returned home from the office for the solitude of evening to prepare a message of apology on behalf of the Class of 1955. I am personally chagrined that you, your family and especially the honor and memory of your father, our classmate and faithful friend, Gil, were exposed to such unintended disdain from one of our own. I am confident that it was sent without malice aforethought, although thoughtless and insensitive. Such dark humor of the message originator could not envision the hurt and pain it would cause, especially to you and your mother, Vorece, whom we all respect and admire. What was sent is most regrettable, while your reply was remarkable in its tone and tenor, evoking feelings of remorse by all who knew and bonded with your dad over our four years as cadets. He stood tall among us, literally and colloquially, a gentle person with a heart of gold, a broad smile and a kind word for everyone he met.
My own personal memories of Gil run deep through our careers where we both served in the Infantry, completing the same training and similar assignments. But perhaps our closest and final linkage came in retirement during our 45th Reunion at West Point, after your dad had suffered his stroke and was moving haltingly, yet was proudly there among his faithful and loyal classmates. My wife (also a catastrophic stroke victim confined to a wheelchair since 1984) and I shared a van with your mom and dad from point to point and relished those rides and lengthy conversations together. His moral and spiritual strength showed through his disability while your mom's love, concern and care for him were an inspiration to all. For my wife and me who have borne those same challenges of paralysis and immobility, your dad was a hero and your mom the heroine. In the eyes and hearts of the Class of 1955, the color of the skin is not a discriminator nor a detractor, it is the faith, hope, brotherly love and mutual respect for one another that engenders brotherhood within the Long Grey Line. Your father stood tall in our ranks, was honored in death as he was honored in life, graduating from the Military Academy and receiving his diploma and commission in the US Army from the President of the United States as did all members of the class, Black, White, Hispanic and Asian Pacific. The Class of '55 was and remains today a Band of Brothers and Gil was a brother to us all.
Finally Felicia, you are an inspiring, sensitive and loving daughter, not simply to speak out, but to speak with the warmth and gentle tone for which your dad was also known. I assure you that your voice, and his, have been heard and will never be forgotten in the Class of 1955. Gil would be so proud, as are we, that you spoke from your heart. We understand and share your sadness. We too are disappointed, but be assured that you, your mom and family have the deepest apologies of the Class of 1955, one and all. You will receive many messages from classmates and prayers for understanding and forgiveness will be uplifted on behalf of all of us, and none will be more sincere or more heartfelt than my message to you tonight. May we remember your dad now as he was remembered beside his First Class picture in the 1955 yearbook, 'HIS SMILE ALWAYS REMAINED' , playing his ukulele, a pipe between his teeth and a broad grin upon his face. We pray that he smiles upon us today for the lesson learned from you, his loving daughter, and from a misintended message that went awry, praying also that such will never, never happen again.
With love to your mom and family.
Carl H. McNair, Jr.
Major General, US Army (RET)
President USMA Class of 1955
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November 18, 1929 - November 13, 2014
Tacoma has lost one of its most beloved school teachers. Vorece was born November 18, 1929, and passed November 13, 2014. Visitation will take place Tuesday, November 18, from 1pm to 7pm at Mountain View Funeral Home in Lakewood, WA. The celebration of Vorece's life will take place on Friday, November 21, 2014, 4pm at Zion's River, 4602 So. 56th Street, Tacoma, WA 98409. Arrangements entrusted to Mountain View Funeral Home of Lakewood, WA.