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GEN Clifton Bledsoe Cates

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GEN Clifton Bledsoe Cates

General, USMC. Commandant of the Marine Corps. Born In Tiptonville, Tennessee, the son of Martha Bledsoe and Willis Cates. He attended the Missouri Military Academy and the University of Tennessee. In 1917, upon the United States' entry into the First World War, he joined the Marines as a second lieutenant. He commanded the 96th Company, 2d Battalion, 6th Marines during the battles for the town of Bouresches and Belleau Wood, where he earned the Navy Cross for heroism. At Soissons, his actions led to his receiving the Silver Star. The French government awarded him the Legion of Honor and the Crois de Guerre. He finished his service at the rank of Captain. After the war, he served as a military aide to the President, and as aide to the Marine Corps commandant. In 1929, he deployed to China with the 4th Marines. Stateside in 1935, he was assigned to the War Plans Section of the Division of Operations and Training. The following year he returned to China as a battalion commander. In 1940, he was named Director of the Marine Officers Basic School in Philadelphia and held the rank of colonel. With the outbreak of the Second World War, he commanded the 1st Marine Regiment in the Guadalcanal-Tulagi landings, where he won the Legion of Merit . He fought as commander of the 4th Marine Division in the Tinian campaign and Iwo Jima, where he won the Distinguished Service Medal at Tinian, and a Gold Star in lieu of a second Distinguished Service Medal at Iwo Jima. Ordered back to the United States in 1945, he was named President of the Marine Corps Equipment Board before being appointed Commanding General of the Marine Barracks. He held that command until 1948, when he was advanced to the rank of General and sworn in as 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps. During his four-year term as Commandant, he brought the first helicopters into service on a test basis. After his tenure, he reverted to the rank of lieutenant general. He was again promoted to general upon his retirement in 1954. After retiring, he chaired the National Campaign of the USO. He died at the age of 76 after a long illness. He was buried with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. The Missouri Military Academy created the General Clifton B. Cates 'I Will Hold' Award for Leadership in 2014. Author James Nelson published 'I Will Hold: The Story of USMC Legend Clifton B. Cates, from Belleau Wood to Victory in the Great War' in 2016.

Bio by: Iola


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Bill Heneage
  • Added: 2 Oct 2002
  • Find A Grave Memorial 6816458
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for GEN Clifton Bledsoe Cates (31 Aug 1893–4 Jun 1970), Find A Grave Memorial no. 6816458, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .