Skip to main content

The Navy Department Library

Related Content

Adapted from "Secretary of the Navy Thomas Sovereign Gates, Jr.," [biography, dated 1 April 1957] in Modern Biographical Files collection, Navy Department Library

Document Type
  • Biography
Wars & Conflicts
  • World War II 1939-1945
File Formats
  • Image (gif, jpg, tiff)
Location of Archival Materials

Thomas Sovereign Gates, Jr.

10 April 1906 - 25 March 1983

Portrait of Thomas S. Gates Jr. Secretary of the Navy

PDF Version [754KB]

Thomas Sovereign Gates, Jr, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania on 10 April 1906. He has been a lifelong resident of the Philadelphia area. He is the son of the late Thomas S. Gates, former President of the University of Pennsylvania.

He attended Chestnut Hill Academy and the University of Pennsylvania, from which he graduated in 1928.

After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania in 1928, Mr. Gates joined the firm of Drexel & Co., investment bankers. In 1940, Mr. Gates was made a partner in this firm. In addition, he has been a director of the Beaver Coal Corporation, the Scott Paper Company and the International Basic Economy Corporation.

During World War II, Mr. Gates was commissioned in the Naval Reserve and served on active duty from 1 April 1942 until his release to inactive duty in October 1945. He graduated from the Quonset Point Air Intelligence School, and was then assigned to Commander in Chief, Atlantic to help in the organization and development of the Naval Air Intelligence Center under that command. In the spring of 1943, he was assigned to the USS Monterey and served in the Pacific for approximately one year. In the summer of 1944 he was assigned to the staff  of Rear Admiral Calvin T. Durgin (now Vice Admiral, Retired), and served on that staff during the invasion of Southern France. Immediately following this, he was sent back to the Pacific where he remained until the end of the war, taking part in the Philippine liberation and the Iwo Jima and Okinawa campaigns. For his war service, Mr. Gates was awarded the Bronze Star and a Gold Star in lieu of a second Bronze Star. In December 1953 he was promoted to Captain, USNR, and placed on the Retired List.

Since the war, Mr. Gates has kept up his interest in the Navy by being active in the organization of Reserve Officers of the Naval Service; serving as a Director and National Vice President of the Navy League of the United States; and serving as a member of the Naval Advisory Council of the Bureau of Aeronautics. In addition, he is a member of the Pennsylvania Commander of the Military Order of Foreign Wars of the United States.

Mr. Gates has also been active in civic affairs in the Philadelphia area, having been President of the Associated Hospital Services of  Philadelphia; Director of the Philadelphia Child Guidance Clinic; Director of the Community Chest of Philadelphia and vicinity; Director of Health Services, Inc., a member of the Finance Development Committee of the United Services Organization, and on the Philadelphia  Council of the Boy Scouts of America. He is a Trustee and Member of the Executive Board of the University of Pennsylvania. 

Mr. Gates was appointed Under Secretary of the Navy by President Eisenhower and assumed that office in October 1953. One of his first assignments was as Chairman of the Navy Reorganization Committee. On 1 April 1957 he succeeded the Honorable Charles S. Thomas as Secretary of the Navy.

He died on 25 March 1983.


Published: Thu Sep 14 10:35:59 EDT 2017