Lt. Robert McElfresh Tatum


Written by Dr. Julian P. Tatum, Jr. One in a collection by Allen Bachoroski, Local Historical Writer and author of “Tales Along the Highway of Legends”


Bob, a product of the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, was born on November 3, 1923.  He attended the Berwind and Trinidad Schools.  He was keenly interested in debates and was an oratorical contest winner.  Bob Tatum served as Master Councilor of DeMoley.  Bob graduated first in his class at Trinidad Junior College.  He enlisted in the Air Corps and studied Communications and Meteorology at the University of Minnesota and Yale.  Then Bob was appointed to the Navel Academy.  Following his graduation in 1948, he was stationed in Tsingtao, China for three years.  Then he returned to Washington. D.C. with Navel Intelligence.  His next naval assignment wa aboard the USS Mt. McKinley.

In 1952 Bob was married to  Ann C. Weiser, the daughter of a school superintendent at Canal Winchester, Ohio.  Ann, a medical Technologist was a graduate of Ohio State. Upon Bob’s graduation from the U.S. Navel Academy, the following appeared in the “Lucky Bag”: “Bob Tatum…tall…lean…and you named it…has packed his bag of bones from one side of the U.S. to the other… either in the Army of looking for Indian writings and picture carvings…he is one of the best known archaeologist in the country…he spends his spare time writing articles on this subject for scientific magazines throughout the country…by nature a gentle soul…a madman when turned loose in museums…loaded with petroglyphs…Bob has displayed uninhibited energy in letter writing…to keep up to date on the archaeology world…, Bob writes a hundred  letters a week.  A Math major and a Chess player…don’t  be surprised if in future years you hear of a Naval expedition being led by R.M. Tatum into the wilds of Siberia to investigate how early man crossed the Bering Straits into North America.”

Bob’s naval career was cut short when he and Ann were killed in an automobile accident in New Mexico on February 10, 1953.

On September 10, 1953, Secretary of the Navy Anderson sent a letter of Commendation to Myrtle Tatum citing Lieutenant Robert Tatum posthumously for outstanding service in Naval Intelligence.  The Secretary said his fulfillment of vital tasks reflected the highest credit upon Lieutenant Tatum and the U.S. Naval Service.

Before Bob’s death his great interest in archaeology was shown by his writing a book, “The Distribution of Petroglyphs in the U.S.”  This book has been given to Trinidad State Junior College by his brother, Dr. Julian P. Tatum, Jr.  Bob and his wife, Ann, are buried in Evergreen Cemetery in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

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