SAME Remembers Walt Bachus

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Brig. Gen. Walter O. “Walt” Bachus, F.SAME, USA (Ret.), Executive Director of the Society of American Military Engineers from 1978-1993, and the only two-time recipient of the Society’s Gold Medal (now named the Walter O. Bachus Gold Medal), passed away May 3. He was 87.

Walt BachusCurrent SAME Executive Director, Dr. Robert D. “Bob” Wolff, P.E., F.SAME, a friend of General Bachus and who looked to him as a mentor, recalls many fond memories of Walt’s passion for SAME and his forward-thinking visions that have helped the Society over the last three decades and will continue long into the future.

Writes Dr. Wolff…

Walter Bachus, Walt, served as the Executive Director of SAME for 15 years between 1978 and 1993. He was “Mr. SAME” during those 15 years to both those in uniform and those in industry. Helen Bachus, Walt’s wife of 67 years, was just as much a part of SAME—she was SAME’s First Lady. Helen participated in most events with Walt and befriended many SAME military and civilian members and spouses including my wife, Phyllis. Walt and Helen took care of each other. Their strong marriage and loving relationship was a great example to all who knew them.

Walt was passionate about SAME and transferred that passion to others who were willing to commit their time and effort to the Society’s mission. While Walt was leading SAME, I served on the National Board of Direction as the Chair of the Technology Committee. From the beginning of my service on the National Board, Walt became my mentor, giving me the confidence to participate with many outstanding and senior people on the Board and to become a volunteer leader.

Walt worked closely with Army Lt. Gen. Jack Morris, who was the SAME President in 1978, to formalize and re-energize Sustaining Memberships in SAME for architecture, engineering, construction and environmental companies that supported the military. Bringing those companies into SAME was essential to the Society’s survival since the dues from individual members were insufficient for the basic Society operations. Equally important, it helped enhance the communication and partnership between the public and private sector that is so important to national defense. Walt also was able to reach out to those companies to raise the needed $750,000 to purchase Century House in 1980. This is the SAME HQ building where the SAME National staff resides to this day….

Walt Bachus with Colin Powell

Walt Bachus, SAME Executive Director, presents Gen. Colin Powell with Honorary Life Membership, August 1991. At right, then-SAME President, Maj. Gen. Bud Ahearn, USAF.

To read the full tribute, please click here. A few years back, SAME produced a video on the history of the Society that includes some cherished moments with General Bachus—it can be viewed here.

Walt Bachus is survived by his wife, Helen, a son Bruce (Virginia) and daughter Leslie (New Jersey), and four grandchildren. He will be missed.

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