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|Pilot Lieutenant Commander Billy V. "Skipper" Gates, O-079090 C. O. VC-83 (MIA / KIA) Urich, MO
MIA April 22, 1945
Built by General Motors Corporation Eastern Aircraft Division as F4F-8. Delivered to the U. S. Navy (USN) as FM-2 Wildcat bureau number 74105.
Assigned to USS Sargent Bay (CVE-83) to Composite Squadron 83 (VC-83). No known nickname or nose art.
On April 22, 1945 took off from USS Sargent Bay (CVE-83) piloted by Lt Commander Billy V. "Skipper" Gates to fly as air coordinator over the Okinawa area. Reportedly, this Wildcat was hit midair by another aircraft and crashed in enemy held territory. When this aircraft failed to return, it was officially listed as Missing In Action (MIA).
Gates was officially declared dead April 23, 1946. He earned the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), Air Medal with four gold stars and Purple Heart, posthumously. Gates is memorialized at National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific (Punchbowl) on the court of the missing, court 3. He also has a memorial marker at Arlington National Cemetery at section ME site 37. He has another memorial marker at Urich Cemetery in Urich, MO at block wel, lot 26, group D.
NARA Composite Squadron 83 (VC-83) War Diary 3 January 1944–31 December 1944 / 1 January 1945-30 June 1945 pages 32 (biographical sketch), 92, 103 (Daily Summary of Sorties and Hours Flown from 1 January to 30 June 1945), 108 (Schedule of Flying Time of VF Pilots), 117 (Schedule of Damage to Aircraft), 120 (Schedule of Damage to Aircraft, Footnotes)
(Page 92) "This situation finally cost us dearly for on 22 April, our Skipper, Lt. Comdr. B. V. Gates, failed to return from a mission as Air Coordinator and was reported missing in action. From the reports we received we learned that he apparently been hit in mid-air by another plane and crashed in enemy territory. This is not the place for a eulogy of Lt. Comdr. Gates but when he failed to return the Navy lost one of its finest Squadron Commanders. For us, the loss was irreparable. He was much more than merely our Commanding Officer. He was our Skipper, loved, revered and respected by every man who served with or under him.
The loss of our Skipper, set us back on our heels but it is a tribute to him and to Lieut. M. S. Worley, our Executive Officer, who succeeded to the command of the squadron, that we continued operations as usual without slackening our pace. Lt. L. F. Zabel became our Executive Officer but otherwise everything continued as before."
(Page 117) "4/22/45 - Okinawa - FM-2 74105 - B. V. Gates Lt. Comdr. - Probable mid-air collision - Plane crashed in enemy territory"
(Page 120) "Lt. Comdr. Gates reported missing in action"
Navy Serial Number Search Results - FM-2 Wildcat 74105
USN Overseas Aircraft Loss List April 1945 - FM-2 Wildcat 74105
American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) - Billy V. Gates
FindAGrave - LCDR Billy Victor Gates (photo, courts of the missing)
FindAGrave - LCDR Billy Victor “Skipper” Gates (photo, memorial marker photo)
FindAGrave - LCDR Billy Victor Gates (photo, obituary, memorial marker)
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April 20, 2020
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