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First Name: Clifton

Last Name: Cates

Birthplace: Tiptonville, TN, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Marines (present)

Middle Name: Bledsoe

Date of Birth: 31 August 1893

Date of Death: 04 June 1970

Rank: General

Years Served: 1917 - 1954
Clifton Bledsoe Cates

•  World War I (1914 - 1918)
•  World War II (1941 - 1945)


Clifton Bledsoe Cates
General, U.S. Marine Corps

Clifton Bledsoe Cates was born on 31 August 1893 in Tiptonville, TN. After graduating from the University of Tennessee with a Bachelor of Law degree in 1916, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserves. He began active duty on 13 June 1917.

World War I

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, and the Purple Heart. He was awarded a Silver Star for his gallantry at Soissons.

Post-WWI Service

Cates returned to the U.S. in September 1919 and served in Washington, DC, as a White House aide and Aide-de-Camp to the Commandant of the Marine Corps. In 1920, he served in San Francisco, CA, as Aide-de-Camp to the Commanding General, Department of the Pacific. From 1923-25, 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 and 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.

In 1940 he was named Director of the Marine Officers Basic School at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. In 1942, Colonel Cates took command of the 1st Marines.

World War II

Colonel Cates led the 1st Marine Regiment at Guadalcanal; he then took command of the 4th Marine Division in the Marianas operation, the Tinian campaign and the seizure of Iwo Jima.

After his first tour of duty in the Pacific, Cates returned to the U.S. to serve as Commandant of the Marine Corps Schools at Quantico until 1944. He then returned to the Pacific Theater and served as Commander of the 4th Marine Division until the end of the war.

Commandant of the Marine Corps

On 1 January 1948, Cates was promoted to the rank of General and sworn in as the 19th Commandant of the Marine Corps. He served as Commandant for four years. Upon completion of his tour as Commandant, he reverted back to the rank of Lieutenant General and returned to serve again as Commandant of the Marine Corps Schools.

He retired on 30 June 1954 and was once again promoted to the rank of General.

General Cates also held doctorial law degrees from the University of Tennessee and the University of Chattanooga.

Medals and Awards

Navy Cross
Distinguished Service Cross with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
Navy Distinguished Service Medal with 1 Award Star
Silver Star Medal with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
Legion of Merit with Valor Device
Purple Heart with 1 Oak Leaf Cluster
Navy Presidential Unit Citation with 3 Stars
World War I Victory Medal with 5 Stars
Army of Occupation of Germany Medal
Marine Corps Expeditionary Medal
Yangtze Service Medal
China Service Medal
American Defense Service Medal
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with 4 Bronze Stars
World War II Victory Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Croix de Guerre with Gilt Star and 2 Palms
Legion of Honor, Knight Grade
Order of Orange-Nassau, Rank of Grand Officer with Crossed Swords
French Fourragère

Death and Burial

General Clifton Bledsoe Cates died on 4 June 1970 at the U.S. Naval Hospital in Annapolis, MD, after a long illness. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA.

Honoree ID: 378   Created by: MHOH




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