North High Polar Bears North High School Wall of Honor
Robert Lee Gates
Class of June, 1949
Robert Lee Gates; June, 1949
Research done by Claradell Shedd, Class of 1953 and Robert Lee Gates, Class of 1949
Robert Lee Gates

Bob graduated in the June, 1949 North High class. He enlisted in the US Marine Corps on July 5, 1949 in Des Moines, IA. His service number was 1100566. Bob's next of kin was listed as Mr. and Mrs. Lee Oliver Gates, 408 East Sheridan Avenue, Des Moines, IA.

San Diego, CA; 09/10/49; Platoon 24 Marine Corps Recruit Depot

Photo at left is Bob's graduating class from boot training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, CA on 10 September 1949. Bob is in the third row from the bottom, the seventh person in from the left hand side.
Click on photo to view enlarged version
Robert Lee Gates
Year   Rank   Status
June, 1949   Graduated   Graduated from North High School, Des Moines, IA
July 5, 1949 x US Marine Corps x Enlisted in Des Moines, IA
July, 1949 x Basic Training x Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, CA
October, 1949 x Home on Leave/PFC x Home on leave from boot camp at MCRD, San Diego. Photo (shown below) taken at Des Moines Airport before returning to San Diego, CA for additional training.
October, 1949 x Training x Returned to San Diego, CA for orders for first duty station
November, 1949 x Training x Assigned to US Naval Magazine and Weapons Depot, . Port Chicago, Suisun Bay, CA. Security guard duty.
June, 1950 x Training x US Naval Training Center, Great Lakes, IL. US Marine Corps Reserve. Six year enlistment effective July 1, 1950
July, 1950 x Training x Assigned Ninth Marine Corp Reserve District, E Company, 2nd Battalion, Fort Des Moines, IA
October, 1950 x Training x *Recall to active service. Ordered to Camp Pendleton, CA for advanced infantry training. C Company, 2nd Platoon, 2nd Infantry Training Battalion, Tent Camp #2.
February, 1951 x Training/PFC x Assigned to 6th Replacement Draft Fleet Marine Force for deployment to Korea.
February 14, 1951 x Enroute x **Transport from San Diego to Kobe, Japan via USS General George M. Randall took 19 days. Assigned to H Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Division Fleet Marine Force. From Kobe, took ship to Pusan, Korea. From Pusan, Korea, one-day train ride. Trucked. Then walked to area with pup tents. We were there!
March 1, 1951 x Arrived Port x Arrived at Kobe, Japan
March 1, 1951 x Embarked x Embarked from Kobe, Japan for Korea
March 5, 1951 x Arrived Korea/
x Arrived Pusan, Korea. One-day train ride; then trucked to front lines. H Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, ****1st Maine Division, Mri Pearl. Browning Automatic Rifleman (BAR man)
June, 1951 x Combat/CPL x Fire Team Leader. Promoted to Corporal
November, 1951 x Combat/Sgt x Machine Gun Section Leader. Promoted to Sergeant. Participated in four combat campaigns: First United Nations Counter Offensive, Communist Chinese Spring Offensive, United Nations Summer-Fall Offensive, 1951-1952 Korean Winter
March 15, 1952 x Enroute x *****Survivors of the 6th Replacement Draft leaves Korea via East Coast Village Solscho-Ri aboard the USNS Marine Adder (T-AP-193) to Kobe, Japan.
March 17, 1952-
March 30, 1952
x Enroute/SGT x ******6th Replacement Draft leaves Kobe, Japan aboard the USNS Walter H. Gordon, arriving in San Francisco, CA on March 30, 1952.
April, 1952 x Military x Marine Barracks, MCRD, San Diego, CA. Debriefing about experience of combat. Back to 9th Marine Corps Reserve.
October 17, 1952 x Family x At Collins, IA, married Virginia JoAnn Fertig with whom had corresponded during Bob's time spent in Korea.
1952-1999 x Employment x International Harvester Company. Zone Manager. Worked in the heavy truck business in sales, engineering, and management.
July, 1956 x Discharge x Discharged from United States Ninth Marine Corps Reserve
December, 1999 x Retirement x Retired from Freightliner Corporation in Des Moines, IA
Present (2013) x Volunteer x Iowa Gold Star Military Museum; Camp Dodge, IA
*Camp Pendleton, CA
C Company, 2nd Platoon, 2nd Infantry Training Battalion, Tent Camp 2 (click here to enlarge photo below)
Bob Gates is in the front row, the fourth from the left side
**USS General George M. Randall (AP-115)
Korean War
As an MSTS ship, USS General George M. Randall made scheduled runs between the West coast of the United States and the Orient until fighting erupted in Korea in the summer of 1950. She participated in the amphibious assault at Inchon which routed the North Korean Army and forced Communist evacuation of South Korea. After hordes of Chinese Communist troops poured into Korea and trapped American forces, she served in the evacuation of Hungnam, which saved the embattled G.I.'s enabling them to return to the fight.

She moored at New York, New York, on 26 May 1951, and made four voyages from New York to Bremerhaven and Southampton before returning to the Pacific. On 11 March 1951, General George M. Randall departed Yokohama, Japan, with the bodies of 52 men, the first Korean War dead to be returned to the United States, including Major General Bryant E. Moore, who had commanded the IX Corps. Armed Services honor guards were in attendance at the departure, as was an Army Band, and was heavily covered by the press. The ship arrived at San Francisco, also carrying 1500 officers and men of the 1st Marine Division being rotated home for 30 day leave. She then returned to Yokohama on 24 October.

***1st Marine Division
(From the 1st Marine Division Presidential Unit Citation Award)
The President of the United States takes pleasure in presenting The Presidential Unit Citation to the First Marine Division Reinforced for services as set forth in the following citation:
"For extraordinary heroism in action against the enemy aggressor forces in Korea during the periods 21 to 26 April, 16 May to 30 June, and 11 to 25 September, 1951. Spearheading the first counteroffensive in the spring of 1951, the First Marine Division, Reinforced, engaged the enemy in the mountainous center of Korea in a brilliant series of actions unparalleled in the history of the Marine Corps, destroying and routing hostile forces with an unrelenting drive of seventy miles north from Wonju. During the period 21 to 26 April, the full force of the enemy counteroffensive was met by the Division, north of the Hwachon Reservoir. Although major units flanking The Marine Division were destroyed or driven back by the force of this attack, the Division held firm against the attackers, repelling the onslaught from three directions and preventing the encirclement of the key center of the lines. Following a rapid regrouping of friendly forces in close contact with the enemy, the First Marine Division, Reinforced, was committed into the flanks of the massive enemy penetration and, from 16 May to 30 June, was locked in violent and crucial battle which resulted in the enemy being driven back to the north with disastrous losses to his forces in the number of killed, wounded, and captured. Carrying out a series of devastating assaults, the Division succeeded in reducing the enemy's main fortified complex dominating the 38th Parallel. In the first significant offensive of the action in Korea, from 11 to 25 September 1951, the First Marine Division, Reinforced, completed the destruction of the enemy forces in Eastern Korea by advancing the front against a final desperate enemy defense in the "Punch Bowl" area in heavy action which completed the liberation of South Korea in this locality. With the enemy's major defenses reduced, his forces on the central front decimated, and the advantage of terrain and the tactical initiative passing to friendly forces, he never again recovered sufficiently to resume the offensive in Korea. The outstanding courage, resourcefulness, and aggressive fighting spirit of the officers and men of the First Marine Division, Reinforced, reflect the highest credit upon themselves and the United States Naval Service."

(From the 1st Marine Division Presidential Unit Citation Award)
The President of the Republic of Korea takes profound pleasure in citing for outstanding and superior performance of duty during the period 26 October to 27 July 1953 the First United States Marine Division Reinforced for the award of President Unit Citation:
"Landing at Wonsan on 26 October 1950 the First United States Marine Division (Reinforced) advanced to Yudam-ni where they engaged the Chinese Communist Forces. The heroic and courageous fighting of the First United States Marine Division (Reinforced), which was outnumbered but never outfought by the Chinese Communist Forces; coupled with its fight against the terrible winter weather in this return to Hungnam, has added another glorious page to the brilliant history of the United States Marines. After regrouping and retraining, the First United States Marine Division (Reinforced) rejoined the United Nations Forces and began the attack to the north which drove the aggressors relentlessly before them. The enemy spring offensive during April 1951 which threatened to nullify the recent United Nations gains was successfully repulsed by the First Marine Division (Reinforced) and when other Republic of Korea Forces were heavily pressed and fighting for survival the timely offensive by this Division gave heart to the people of Korea."

****Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR)
WWI saw the first use of automatic weapons on a large scale. The Model 1918 Browning Automatic Rifle, known as the BAR, was created by arms designer John Browning to be a light automatic weapon which could be fired from the shoulder or hip. The weapon saw service with the American forces during the last stages of WWI, where it provided "walking fire" for attacks on enemy positions. It fired a standard .30 caliber rifle cartridge that was valued for its range and penetrating power. Between the World Wars, several variations on the basic design were made, including the addition of a folding bipod. The BAR was used extensively in WWII where it became an essential weapon in the American rifle squad. During the Korean War, the BAR again saw active service in all major campaigns. Its accurate automatic fire took a deadly toll on the enemy.

The .30 Caliber Air-Cooled Machine Gun
Althought the M1917A1 water-cooled machine gun was a fine weapon, the U.S. Army found that it was too bulky to be used effectively in tanks. Therefore, following WWI, they adapted John Browning's design and developed an air-cooled light machine gun which did not require all off the apparatus of the water-cooled gun. By WWII, the design had been refined and it was also considered a desirable weapon for the infantry. It could be easily carried and set up on a small tripod by a machine gun crew. The air-cooled weapon could fire at a rate of 400-550 rounds per minutes, which was slightly slower than the M1917A1. Designed the M1919A4 machine gun, it saw remarkable service in WWII where it proved to be a highly effective weapon. During the war, a further adaptation was made with the addition of a buttstock bipod, lighter weight barrel, and flash hider. Weapons that were so modified were renamed the M1919A6. Both styles of air-cooled machine guns saw rugged service on the hills, valleys, and fields of Korea.
*****USNS Marine Adder; T-AP-193
USNS Marine Adder (T-AP–193) was a troop ship for the United States Navy in the 1950s. She was built in 1945 for the United States Maritime Commission as SS Marine Adder, a Type C4-S-A3 troop ship, by the Kaiser Company during World War II. In 1950, the ship was transferred to the Military Sea Transport Service of the U.S. Navy as a United States Naval Ship staffed by a civilian crew. After ending her naval service in 1957, she entered the National Defense Reserve Fleet, but was sold for commercial use in 1967. Renamed SS Transcolorado, she was chartered by the Military Sealift Command as a civilian cargo ship designated T-AK-2005.

******USS General Walter H. Gordon; T-AP-117
In November 1951, upon expiration of APL's charter, she was taken into the Military Sea Transportation Service (MSTS), reinstated on the Naval Vessel Register and placed in service as a civilian-manned Navy transport. USNS General W. H. Gordon (T-AP-117) departed San Francisco in December 1951 on the first of many trans-Pacific voyages in support of Korean War operations.

Here is Bob's story as related to Ann Wright for the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress:
Des Moines Airport before departing for San Diego; October, 1949
From left: Hatfield Friend, Ted Hatfield, Eva Hatfield (mother), Gladys Willis and son, Bob Long,
Lee and Hazel Gates, Bob Gates, Ron Hartman (in rear), Mary Casebolt, Bob Gates's grandmother,
Gertrude Nelsen, Dick Stalcup, Deane Nelsen, Jens P. Nelsen
October, 1949: At Des Moines, IA airport on leave from Boot Camp
at Marine Corps Recruit Depot, San Diego, CA
(Marines here now returning to San Diego, CA)
USS General George M Randall; AP-115 Insignia for USS General George M Randall; AP-115
USS General George M. Randall (AP-115) AP-115 Logo
USS General George M. Randall; AP-115 Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons
Ribbons awarded the USS General George M Randall; AP-115
Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row-China Service Medal (extended) - American Campaign Medal - Europe-Africa-Middle East Campaign Medal
Second Row-Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal - World War II Victory Medal - Navy Occupation Service Medal (with Asia clasp)
Third Row-National Defense Service Medal - Korean Service Medal - Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal (1-Lebanon)
Fourth Row-Philippine Liberation Medal - United Nations Service Medal - Republic of Korea War Service Medal (retroactive)
USNS Marine Added; T-AP-193
USNS Marine Adder (T-AP-193) Call Sign: NEAF
USNS Marine Adder; T-AP-193 Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons
Ribbons awarded USNS Marine Adder; T-AP-193
Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row - National Defense Service Medal
Bottom Row - Korean Service Medal (8) - United Nations Service Medal - Republic of Korea War Service Medal (retroactive)
USS General Walter H Gordon, T-AP-117
USS General Walter H. Gordon (T-AP-117)
USS General Walter H. Gordon; T-AP-117 Awards, Citations and Campaign Ribbons
Ribbons awarded the USS General Walter H Gordon, T-AP-117
Precedence of awards is from top to bottom, left to right
Top Row - American Campaign Medal - Europe-Africa-Middle East Campaign Medal
Second Row - Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal - World War II Victory Medal - National Defense Service Medal (2)
Third Row - Korean Service Medal (4) - Vietnam Service Medal (2) - Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation (2)
Fourth Row - United Nations Service Medal - Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal - Republic of Korea War Service Medal (retroactive)
In Des Moines; October, 1949   Korea: H-3-7 Column; April, 1951
  Korea: H-3-7 Column; April 1951
  C Rations in the field; Summer, 1951
In Des Moines; October, 1949   Korea: C Rations in the field; Summer, 1951
Bob at Inji, North Korea Bob aboard the USS Walter H Gordon Bob aboard the USS Walter H Gordon
Inji, North Korea Aboard the USS Walter H. Gordon
Memorial Brick at Iowa Gold Star Museum; Johnston, IA Robert Lee Gates and Deane Nelsen
above: Brick Memorial Wall;
Gold Star Museum, Johnston, IA
right: Camp Pendleton/1950: Bob Gates; Deane Gordon Nelsen
above: Urbandale Tree Park with Memorial Pavers for
Joe Boitnott, Robert L Gates, Theodore L Hatfield,
Robert D Long, Robert Niffenegger, Richard C Swift
Robert Lee Gates

How Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment,
1st Division Fleet Marine Force
United States Marine Corps

US Marine Corps Seal

US Marine Corps Insignia

3rd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment

Robert Lee Gates

1st Marine Division

Rifle Expert Badge
Marine Pistol Expert
Marine Sgt Stripes

Good Conduct; Korean Service Medal w./2 stars; National Defense Service Medal; Combat Action Ribbon;
Naval Unit Citation; Presidential Unit Citation; Security Guard Ribbon; Fleet Marine Force Ribbon;
Presidential Unit Citation/Korea; Marine Corps Reserve Ribbon; Marine Corps Reserve Medal;
Korean Service Medal; United Nations Service Medal/Korea; Army Commander's Award for Public Service
(1) Information was obtained from the Records on Military Personnel Who Died, were Missing in Action, or Prisoners of War as a result of the Vietnam War. This document can be found online at the National Archives and Records Administration at

(2) The comprehensive list of names from North High's 1893-2018 graduation classes are from Claradell Shedd's North Des Moines High School website. The names of North High School graduates can be found online at: Robert Lee Gates's 1949 class page is:
In Des Moines, IA: 03/02/13.
Music: "Semper Fidelis"
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