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 and Oak Leaf Cluster, 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 and the Croix de Guerre with Gilt Star and two palms.
Cates returned to the United States in September 1919, and he served in Washington, D.C. as a White House aide and Aide-de-Camp to the Commandant of the Marine Corps. In 1920, he served in San Francisco, California, as Aide-de-Camp to the Commanding General, Department of the Pacific. From 1923 to 1925, he served a tour of sea duty as commander of the Marine Detachment aboard the USS California.
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.
In 1940, and he was named the Director of the Marine Officers Basic School at the Philadelphia Navy Yard. In 1942, Col Cates took command of the 1st Marines.
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 Distinguished Service Medal and a Gold Star in lieu of a second Distinguished Service Medal for his service at Iwo Jima.
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 promoted to the rank of General and sworn in as Commandant of the Marine Corps. He served as Commandant for four years and then returned to serve again as Commandant of the Marine Corps Schools. He retired on June 30, 1954. General Cates died on June 4, 1970 in Annapolis, Maryland. A Marine for thirty-seven years, he is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.
The inscription on this marker reads:
This tree was planted May 24th 1919 by the Catholic Children of Nashville in grateful memory of Lieutenant James Simmons Timothy of the 80th Company, 6th Regiment U.S.M.C. who was killed in action at Belleau Wood, France, June 14th 1918, aged 25 years.
He was first wounded while serving with the French in the Verdun Sector, Mar. 22, 1918. On the day of his death he took his company of two hundred men "over the top" and returned with only five. Later in the day he was killed by an enemy shell. Lieutenant Timothy was the first Tennessee officer to make the supreme sacrifice in the Great War for justice and humanity. His last words were, "Into thy hands, O Lord, I commend my soul."
Strong in faith, no fear he knew,
this gallant Knight of God so true:
Pure, courageous, grand was he -
our hero son of Tennessee.
This memorial was erected in 1922 by the Local Exemption Board of Union County, TN.
To Our Heroes
War of 1917-1918
Lists by name WWI veterans from Union County.
For additional background on the Great War in Union County, see: https://www.historicunioncounty.com/article/great-war-union-county
This obelisk was erected to honor the brave citizens of Lawrence County, TN, who served in World War I. According to the monument, 50 men from Lawrence County fought in the war. Those who lost their lives are memorialized on two sides. This monument is part of the "Blue Star Memorial Highway," as indicated by a nearby marker. The inscriptions on the four sides of the obelisk read:
USA 1917-1919 Remembered
Erected in honor of the fifty heroic men from the 11th and 13th Civil Districts Lawrence Co. Tenn. who served in the Army and Navy of the U.S. in the World War 1917 - 1919
Lord God of Hosts, be with us yet, lest we forget, lest we forget.
1st Lt. Edward S Stewart. Commanding Officer Co., 12, Battalion 15, U.S.A. Died at Ft. Oglethorpe Ga. Oct. 19, 1918
Malcolm C. Patterson Private Battery F. 114TH. Field Art. U.S.A. Died at Camp Sevier S.C. Oct. 11, 1917
1st Lt. Leoline O. Crane, Killed near Chateau Thierry France, in the 2nd Battle of the Marne July 19,1918.
Flavious J. Merrow Private 1st. Class Co. E. 119th U.S. Inf. Killed in the Battle of Bellicourt France Sept. 19, 1918.