Clifton B. Cates
Clifton B. Cates
19th Commandant of the Marine Corps
|Birth name||Clifton Bledsoe Cates|
August 31, 1893|
Tiptonville, Tennessee, U.S.
|Died||June 4, 1970
Annapolis, Maryland, U.S.
|Buried||Arlington National Cemetery
Arlington County, Virginia, U.S.
|Service/branch||United States Marine Corps|
|Years of service||1917–1954|
|Commands held||1st Marine Regiment
4th Marine Division
Commandant of the Marine Corps
Distinguished Service Cross
Navy Distinguished Service Medal (2)
Silver Star (2)
Legion of Merit
Legion of Honor (France)
Croix de Guerre (France)
|Other work||National Campaign Chairman, U.S.O.|
Clifton B. Cates (born Clifton Bledsoe Cates; August 31, 1893 – June 4, 1970) was a senior officer of the United States Marine Corps who served as the 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps from 1948 to 1951. He was honored for his heroism during World War I at the Battle of Belleau Wood, and in World War II for inspired combat leadership at the Battle of Iwo Jima. He is considered one of the most distinguished young officers of the Great War. Cates was one of the few officers from any branch of service to have commanded a platoon, a company, a battalion, a regiment, and a division each in combat.
Clifton Bledsoe Cates was born August 31, 1893, in Tiptonville, Tennessee. After graduating from the Missouri Military Academy in 1910, and the University of Tennessee College of Law in 1916 with a Bachelor of Law degree, he was admitted to the Tennessee Bar. Was a member of the Kappa Tau Chapter of Phi Gamma Delta.
World War I
"I have only two men out of my company and 20 out of some other company. We need support, but it is almost suicide to try to get it here as we are swept by machine gun fire and a constant barrage is on us. I have no one on my left and only a few on my right. I will hold." 1stLt. Clifton B. Cates, USMC in Belleau Wood, 19 July 1918
During World War I, Cates served with the 6th Marine Regiment, fighting in France. For his heroism in the Aisne defensive at Boursches and Belleau Wood, he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Distinguished Service Cross with Oak Leaf Cluster - one of only 9 Marines to receive 2 in WWI - in addition to the Purple Heart. He was awarded a Silver Star for his gallantry at Soissons. In addition to his medals from the U.S. military, he was recognized by the French government with the Legion of Honor, one of the greatest compliments that could be paid any officer, and the Croix de Guerre with Gilt Star and two palms. Lt. Cates and his men were credited with saving Bouresches.
Cates returned to the United States in September 1919 after occupation in Germany, and was prepared to resign his commission until dissuaded by Commandant Barnett who took him on as his Aide-de-Camp and he served as a White House aide. In 1920, he stayed as Gen. Barnett's aide and followed him to San Francisco, California. From 1923 to 1925, he served a tour of sea duty as commander of the Marine Detachment aboard the USS California (BB-44).
In 1929, Cates was deployed to Shanghai, China, where he rejoined the 4th Marines, where he served for three years. He then returned to the U.S. for training at the Army Industrial College and in the Senior Course in the Marine Corps Schools. In 1935, was assigned to the War Plans Section of the Division of Operations and Training at Headquarters Marine Corps (HQMC). In 1936, he returned to Shanghai as a battalion commander with the 6th Marine Regiment. In 1938, he rejoined the 4th Marines in Shanghai.
World War II
Colonel Cates led the 1st Marine Regiment at Guadalcanal, for which he was awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat “V". He then took command of the 4th Marine Division in the Marianas operation, the Tinian campaign and the seizure of Iwo Jima. For his services at Tinian he received the Navy Distinguished Service Medal and a Gold Star in lieu of a second Distinguished Service Medal for his service at Iwo Jima. The planning for Tinian included the first complete aerial reconnaissance of an enemy base by the key commanders, including Gen. Cates. Near the end of the fighting at Iwo Jima Gen. Cates attempted to persuade the remaining Japanese Brigade to surrender honorably rather than fight to the death.
After his first tour of duty in the Pacific, returned to the United States to serve as Commandant of the Marine Corps Schools at Quantico until 1944. He then returned to the Pacific theater until the end of the war as commander of the 4th Marine Division.
On January 1, 1948, he was sworn in as the 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps and promoted to the rank of General for his time as Commandant. He served as Commandant for four years, 1948–1951 and fought the budgetary erosion of the Fleet Marine Force. As Commandant, Gen. Cates continued the push to enlarge the Corps standing forces, eventually getting legislation placing the Corps active strength at three divisions and three air wings, and he brought the first helicopters into service on a test basis of the "new concept" in the Korean War - The usage of which would make an impression on the Commander of the FMF, Pacific - his eventual successor as commandant Gen. Shepherd. Shepherd and Cates would revive the amphibious assault at Inchon.
Upon completion of his tour as Commandant of the Marine Corps he was reverted to his then permanent rank of Lieutenant General and was reassigned to serve again as Commandant of the Marine Corps Schools. He retired on June 30, 1954 and was eventually promoted on the retired list to the rank of full General. After retirement he was chairman of the National Campaign of the USO for two years.
General Cates also held doctoral law degrees from the University of Tennessee and the University of Chattanooga.
Cates' high school alma mater, the Missouri Military Academy in Mexico, Missouri, honored his memory with the creation of the "General Clifton B. Cates 'I Will Hold' Award for Leadership" during the Academy's 125th anniversary celebration in 2014. The award specifically recognizes the leadership traits of perseverance and determination.
Dates of rank
|Second Lieutenant||May 24, 1917 (Provisional/Reserves)|
|Sep, 18, 1917 (Temporary)|
|First Lieutenant||July 1, 1918 (Temporary)
Aug, 28, 1918 (authorized-Temporary)
|Captain||Mar, 5, 1919-Sep, 25, 1919 (temporary)
Mar, 21, 1921 (appointed-Temporary)
Apr, 2, 1921 (permanent)
Jun, 4, 1920 (official, retroactive, date of rank)
|Major||Oct, 1, 1931|
|Lieutenant Colonel||July 1, 1935
authorized on July 26, 1935
|Colonel||Apr, 1, 1940|
|Brigadier General||Sep, 16, 1942 (temporary)
Apr, 3, 1943 (permanent)
|Major General||Feb, 1, 1944
authorized on June 23, 1944
|Lieutenant General||Jan, 1, 1952|
|General||While serving as Commandant (until Dec 31, 1951)
Dec, 31, 1947 (appointed)
Jan 28, 1948 (commission)
|Jun 30, 1954 (on retired list)|
|Unit or Assignment||Dates|
|96th Co (H&SC), 2/6||28 Aug 1917-1 May 1919|
|Co. "E", Composite Regiment||1 May 1919-19 Sep 1919|
|Marine Barracks, Washington, D.C.||20 Sep 1919-14 Feb 1920|
|Aide-de-camp to Commandant Barnett, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps & to President Wilson's White House||14 Feb 1920-8 Oct 1920|
|Aide-de-camp to Gen. Barnett, Commanding General of Department of the Pacific, San Francisco, CA||15 Nov 1920-10 June 1923|
|Commander, Marine Detachment, USS California (BB-44)||10 June 1923-29 Apr 1925|
|4th Marines||9 May 1925 – 26 May 1926|
|Recruiting Station, Spokane, WA||1 July 1926 – 1 May 1927|
|Recruiting Station, Omaha, NE||6 May 1927-23 Feb 1928|
|American Battle Monuments Commission, Washington, D.C.||6 Mar 1928-3 May 1929|
|4th Marines, Shanghai, China||5 Aug 1929-6 Jun 1932|
|inc. athletic officer, 4th Marines 6 Sep 1929-6 Jun 1932|
|attending Army Industrial College||17 Aug 1932-23 Jun 1933|
|CO 2d Bn, 7th Marines, FMF, serving off Cuba and the Caribbean||1933/1934|
|attending Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, VA||10 Sep 1934-26 Jul 1935|
|War Plans, Operations, and Training, Headquarters, Marine Corps||30 Sep 1935-24 May 1937|
|2/5, 2d Brigade, FMF||30 Jun 1937-1 Feb 1938
(CO from Sep)
|CO, 2/4||1 Feb 1938-18 May 1939|
|XO, 4th Marines||18 May 1939 – 6 June 1939|
|attending Army War College, Washington, D.C.||1 Sep 1939-22 June 1940|
|Director, Marine Officers Basic School, Navy Yard, Philadelphia, PA||6 July 1940-23 Apr 1942|
|on Maneuvers with Amphibious Force, Atlantic Fleet 5 Jan-16 Jan 1942|
|CO, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division||3 May 1942-11 Feb 1943|
|Commandant, Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, VA||March 1943-20 Jun 1944|
|Command of 4th Marine Division||12 Jul 1944-19 Nov 1945|
|President, Marine Corps Equipment Board, Quantico, VA||14 Jan 1946-?|
|Commanding General, Marine Barracks, Quantico||1 Jun 1946-1 Jan 1948|
|Senior Member of Board, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C.||24 Jun 1946-?|
|President, Advisory Board, Marine Barracks, Quantico, VA||24 Jan 1947-|
|Commandant of the Marine Corps||31 Dec 1947-31 Dec 1951|
|Commandant, Marine Corps Schools, Quantico, VA||31 Dec 1951-30 Jun 1954|
|President, JLFB||?-30 Jun 1952|
Awards and decorations
|1st Row||Navy Cross||French Fourragère|
|2nd Row||Distinguished Service Cross w/ 1 oak leaf cluster||Navy Distinguished Service Medal w/ 1 star||Silver Star w/ 1 oak leaf cluster||Legion of Merit w/ valor device|
|3rd Row||Purple Heart w/ 1 oak leaf cluster||Navy Presidential Unit Citation w/ 3 stars||Navy Unit Commendation||World War I Victory Medal w/ 3 Silver Navy Commendation Stars & 5 campaign stars|
|4th Row||Army of Occupation of Germany Medal||Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal||Yangtze Service Medal||China Service Medal|
|5th Row||American Defense Service Medal||American Campaign Medal||Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with four Bronze Stars||World War II Victory Medal|
|6th Row||National Defense Service Medal||Croix de Guerre w/ Gilt Star & 2 palms||Legion of Honor, Knight grade||Order of Orange-Nassau, rank of Grand Officer w/ crossed swords|
- Allan Reed Millett and Jack Shulimson, eds. (2004). Commandants of the Marine Corps. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. pp. 311–327. ISBN 978-0-87021-012-9.
- Board of Trustees of the Fraternity of Phi Gamma Delta (January 17, 1920). The Phi Gamma Delta. 45. Knoxville Sentinel. p. 612. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
- United States Marine Corps History Division. "General Clifton B Cates, USMC (Deceased)". Who's Who. Retrieved May 12, 2014.
- Harwood, Richard (1994). A Close Encounter: The Marine Landing on Tinian. Marines in World War II Commemorative Series. Transcribed and formatted by Jerry Holden for the HyperWar Foundation. Washington Navy Yard, Washington, DC: Marine Corps Historical Center. p. 5.
- Alexander, Col. Joseph H., UMC (Ret) (1994). "The Assault Commanders at Iwo Jima". Closing In: Marines in the Seizure of Iwo Jima. Marines in World War II Commemorative Series. Transcribed and formatted by Emily Brickhouse for the HyperWar Foundation. Washington Navy Yard, Washington, DC: Marine Corps Historical Center. p. 10.
- Flowers, Mark (2004). "The Dress Blue Uniform Image Gallery". World War II Gyrene. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
- Stringer, Harry R., ed. (1919). Heroes All! A Compendium of the Names and Official Citations of the Soldiers and Citizens of the United States and of Her Allies who Were Decorated by the American Government for Exceptional Heroism and Conspicuous Service Above and Beyond the Call of Duty in the War with Germany, 1917-1919. The Du Bois Press, Rochester, N.Y.: Fassett Publishing Company. p. 93. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
- Sterner, C. Douglas (2014). "Marine Corps Recipients of the Distinguished Service Cross - World War I". HomeofHeroes.com.
- "Appendix I: Chronology", Clifton Bledsoe Cates 1893-1970 Register of His Personal Papers (PDF), Marine Corps Manuscript Register Series, Compiled by Charles Anthony Wood, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, Washington, D.C.: History and Museums Division, 1985, pp. 19–28, retrieved May 3, 2014
- Fourth Marine Division Association. "Division History - Tinian: Home of the Enola Gay". The Fighting Fourth. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
- Fourth Marine Division Association. "Division History - Iowa Jima: Red Blood on Black Sand". The Fighting Fourth. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
- Auditor for the Navy Department (May 9, 1921). "Decision by Comptroller Warwick, May 23, 1921: The Auditor for the Navy Department submitted his decision of May 9, 1921, as follows". In United States Comptroller of the Treasury. Decisions of the Comptroller of the Treasury. 27. U.S. Government Printing Office. pp. 1001–2. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
Cates accepted temporary appointment as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps on September 18, 1917, and served continuously in a temporary capacity until April 2, 1921, on which date he accepted appointment as a captain in the Marine Corps, having been appointed a captain in the Marine Corps, subject to confirmation, on March 21, 1921, with rank from June 4, 1920.
- Lineage of the 7th Marine Regiment
- Hall of Valor. "Valor awards for Clifton Bledssoe Cates". Military Times. Gannett Government Media Corporation. Retrieved May 25, 2014.
- "Navy and Marine Corps Awards Manual NAVPERS 15,790". Transcribed by HyperWar Foundation. 1953. p. 25. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
- Department of the Navy (24 Apr 2014). "United States Marine Corps Unit Awards Manual (NAVMC 2922)" (PDF). p. 65. Retrieved May 25, 2014.