William Finnie Cates, USNR (April 30, 1916 – November 12 1942) was employed by Memphis Light Gas and Water. When the United States was attacked by Japan, Cates enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve January 21, 1942. While serving as Seaman Second Class in Heavy Cruiser USS SAN FRANCISCO CA-38, Cates was killed in action November 12, 1942 when a Japanese torpedo plane, which he kept under fire while refusing to leave his station, crashed aboard the ship. For this heroism, he received The Navy Cross posthumously. He was born in Drummonds Tennessee and has relatives still living there.
USS Cates was launched 10 October 1943, by Tampa Shipbuilding Co., Inc. Tampa, Florida; sponsored by Mrs. P. Dyer; commissioned 15 December 1943, Lieutenant G. A. Prouse, USNR, in command; and reported to the Atlantic Fleet.