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Special Collections Online at UT

Clifton B. Cates Military Service Collection

Identifier: MS-0275

  • Staff Only

This collection consists of photographs, press clippings, and a press release on Clifton B. Cates. The press clippings describe himself as a soldier and the photographs are of him and the medals he was awarded during his service. He served in both World War I and II in the United States Marine Corps and was the 19th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps from 1948-1951.


  • 1946-1951


The material in this collection is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 2 business days are needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library.


0.1 Linear Feet


This collection consists photographs and press clippings of Clifton B. Cates. He served in both World War I and II in the United States Marine Corps. Cates was the 19th Commandant of the United States Marine Corps from 1948-1951.

Biographical/Historical Note

Clifton Bledsoe Cates was born in Tiptonville, Tennessee, on August 31, 1893. He attended the University of Tennessee and graduated with a Bachelor of Law in 1916.

Cates began active duty as Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps Reserves in 1917. In World War II, he served with the 6th Marine Regiment and was awarded the Navy Cross, Distinguished Service Cross, Oak Leaf Cluster, and the Purple Heart. He was also awarded the Legion of Honor and the Croix de Guerre from France.

Cates returned to the United States in September of 1919 and served various positions such as a White House Aide and Aide-de-Camp to the Commandant of the Marine Crops. In 1929, he was deployed to China for three years and served with the 4th Regiment. After returning to the United States for training, he became Battalion Commander and returned to China. In 1940, Cares became the Director of the Marine Officers Basic School at the Philadelphia Navy Yard and was then promoted to command the 1st Marines.

In World War II, he commanded the 1 Marines Regiment and was again awarded several medals for his service. He was awarded the Legion of Merit with Combat V, Navy Distinguished Service Award and a Gold Star for his service in the Battle of Iwo Jima.

On January 1, 1948, Cates promoted to the Rank of General and Commandant of the Marine Corps. He served in the position for four years. He retired on June 30, 1954. General Cates was awarded over 30 medals during his time in the U.S. Marine Corps and is one of the most decorated soldiers.

General Cates died June 4, 1970 at the U.S. Naval Hospital, Annapolis, Maryland, after a long illness.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA