William Finnie Cates

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.

5 thoughts on “William Finnie Cates

    1. Yes. Red was my grandfather’s nephew. My grandfather Ira Lee Cates was at the christening of the USS Cates.

  1. The sister ship of the USS Cates has been exquisitely restored and is afloat in Albany, NY. The USS Slater is open for tours.

    My father-in-law served aboard the Cates.

  2. Hi – I am researching the story of William Finnic Cates for a refurbishment of his plaque at MLGW.
    The only photo we have of Cates is on the plaque, but we don’t have a separate copy for reproducing.
    I see that this photo of him in the blog is very blurry.
    It’s great to know that some of his relatives are still in Memphis.
    Is there a way to get in touch with any of you who are listed above in the comments?
    We would really appreciate it – thank you.
    I would be glad to exchange email addresses.

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