ROBINSON, Ill (WTWO/WAWV) — One glance at these honors, medals and memorabilia and it’s very apparent that Clint Batcheller saw a lot of action during his time in the military. At age 17, the Colorado teenager joined the Army continuing a family tradition of service to the nation.
“They were in all of the wars Revolutionary War and then a Civil War and my dad and his brothers were all in World War II,” said Batcheller.
As a teenager, Batcheller was inspired by JFK and he felt he had two options, the Peace Corps or
the military. He joined the army in 1964 hoping to serve on a tank and after training in Germany, he volunteered to go Vietnam. Once there, he was reassigned to the infantry of the 1st Cavalry.
He spent a lot of time on patrols, seeking the enemy. It was dangerous because of snipers, but Batcheller was young and confident.
“If you feel like it’s not going to be me it’s going to be somebody
else,” said Batcheller.
Even just walking through the jungle was dangerous. Like the time, one of his fellow
soldiers didn’t have his hand grenade tied down properly, and when he went through the
jungle, some vegetation pulled the pin.
“When he got up where we were at it went off and it killed him and wounded the guys
in front and behind, Batcheller recalled.
Batcheller’s brush with death came later during Operation Crazy Horse in 1966, it’s where
Allied forces tried to destroy the Viet Cong.
He was part of group trying to take an enemy bunker complex. At one point, he found
himself out in front and threw a grenade into an enemy position.
“As I lay flat I felt something hit the back of me kind of like hit my pack and I look back
in between my legs was was this hand grenade,” said Batcheller.
He said he had two choices, throw the grenade back or jump behind a tree.
“So I leave for the tree and then it went off after that I laid there for a little bit cuz I
wasn’t sure if I had legs or not so I started wiggling my toes they’re there I think,” Batcheller remembered.
He was taken to medic station with severe injuries. Later he was sent to Japan and spent 4
months recovering from his wounds. But then he developed malaria. Amazingly he recovered that too.
One may consider him lucky, but he says, it was more than luck.
“Luck is really not the word, it was divine,” said Batcheller.