Robert Francis Patterson – Lieutenant Colonel, United States Army

Courtesy of his classmates
United States Military Academy Class of 1946

Robert Francis Patterson
No.15707 Class of 1946
Died 24 December 1986 in Orlando, Florida, aged 65 years.
Interment: Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Virginia


Robert Francis Patterson was born 23 July 1921 in Columbus, Ohio. His family moved to Kentucky when Bob was quite young, and then to Long Island, where Bob spent most of his boyhood. One of his lifetime friends remembers that Bob retained the nickname of “Kentucky” for some time after moving to Long Island. Even as a youngster, Bob is remembered as having a delightful sense of humor and the ability to see the humorous side of most situations. Bob graduated from Bryant High School in Astoria, New York, and wanted to go to college. With six brothers and sisters, it was necessary for him to pay his own way. He was able to get admitted to the City College of New York for the evening session as a ”limited matriculated” student with the stipulation that, if he could complete 15 credits it two semesters with a B average, then he could become a “fully matriculated” student in the day session. Bob was able to meet the requirements and was able to enroll in the Engineering School at CCNY. In 1942, shortly after Pearl Harbor, Bob went into the Army where his commander got him to take the competitive exam for West Point. Thus, on 1 July 1943 Bob entered the Academy with the Class of 1946 and fulfilled a lifetime dream.

Easygoing and good-natured, Bob did what was necessary to survive his time at West Point. He was much smarter than his academic standing indicated, as was amply demonstrated by his postgraduate work later in his career. His attitude as a cadet was that “whatever will be will be–don't sweat the small stuff.” He loved leading songfests, and was always one of the leaders of these at company and class picnics. One close friend recalls Bob as ”The Happy Wanderer.”

Graduation saw Bob go into the Infantry, where he attended the Basic Course at Fort Benning, Georgia. From Benning he was assigned to the 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Division in Germany. From Germany, Bob was assigned to the Army General School at Fort Riley, Kansas. Fort Riley at that time had been just redesignated from the old Cavalry School, and Infantry lieutenants were at a definite disadvantage there. When Bob reported to the assistant commandant, he was told, “We treat Infantry officers as branch immaterial here.” On 3 June 1951 Bob married Jackie Stewart at Fort Benning, Georgia. After the Infantry, Advanced Course, at Benning in 1953. Bob went to jump school and was off to Korea where he served as assistant G-3 and then S-3 in the 7th Infantry Regiment. From Korea, Bob returned to Hawaii where he was a company commander, then S-3 and executive officer of a battalion. In 1957 Bob was selected to attend the University of Virginia at Charlottesville, where he graduated in 1959 with a master's degree in physics. Following a tour at Fort Monroe, Virginia with Continental Army Command, Bob transferred to the Signal Corps. After attending the Signal Advanced Course. Bob was assigned to the Army Research & Development Group in Japan in 1963. His next assignment was with the Defense Intelligence Agency in Washington, DC. Bob decided that intelligence work was not to his liking, so he retired from the Army on 31 July 1965 as a Lieutenant Colonel.

Following his retirement, Bob accepted a position doing defense contract work with Martin Marietta in Orlando, Florida. He found his niche in life there, and progressed to increasingly responsible jobs with that firm. He was even able to obtain a second master's degree at Rollins College. Unfortunately, Bob and Jackie were divorced in the early 1970's. Shortly after the divorce, Bob suffered a massive stroke 31 December 1973, which left him paralyzed on the right side and unable to communicate normally. His condition was such that his daughters had no choice but to place him in a nursing home. Bob remained in nursing homes until Christmas 1986. when he died from pneumonia. He was survived by his daughters Pamela, Patricia, and Judith.

Bob always had a desire for knowledge and education. He always felt that his research & development work with Martin Marietta fulfilled this need in his life. He was proud of being a West Pointer. He continued to live the motto: Duty, Honor, Country throughout his life. He was a loving father, always loyal to his God, his family, and his country. After his stroke it was Bob's faith that made his life meaningful.

His daughter Patricia submitted the following testimony of Bob's faith: “Daddy's stroke was tragic in that it left a very intelligent man physically, and mentally incompetent for the rest of his life. It was frustrating for him not being able to communicate easily the thoughts going through his mind and to be so dependent on others. But God is sovereign in all things and used the stroke to bring daddy into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ.

“The Bible says, in John 3:16, ‘For God so loved the world that He give his only begotten Son (Jesus) that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.' That truth got into daddy's heart only after he became completely helpless and he accepted that free gift from God, healing him spiritually and giving him the assurance of eternal life with his creator in heaven.

“When he died, he was freed from the pain and suffering of this world and entered into the presence of his Lord, fully at peace. “My sisters and I buried daddy at Arlington with full military honor's. As the band played ‘Holy, Holy, Holy,' a vivid memory came hack to me as a little girl standing next to daddy at church and hearing him sing strongly the words to this, his favorite hymn. How real the words became to daddy in the last years of his life, having accepted the salvation of God through Christ: ‘Holy, Holy, Holy, there is none beside thee, perfect in power, in love and purity.' Though I miss my father, I thank
my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, that I will he united in heaven with him one day.”

To this, his classmates, can only add, “Well Done Bob, Be Thou At Peace!”

1946 Memorial Article Project and his daughter Patricia.

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