Commodore Yates was born in Palmyra, Wisconsin, 21 October 1884. On 14 January 1903, he enlisted in the Navy as landsman for training and with the rating of ordinary seaman, was discharged on 10 September 1904, to enter the Naval Academy on appointment from Wisconsin. He was graduated in June 1908 and performed the service of two years afloat, then required by law before commissioning, in USS Maryland and USS New Orleans. He was in New Orleans on the Asiatic Station when commissioned Ensign on 6 June 1910. He subsequently advanced in grade until promoted to Commodore 10 May 1943.
After being commissioned, Commodore Yates remained in the Far East until September 1913 and in New Orleans until December 1910. He later served in USS Barry; had instruction in submarines in the tender Mohican and the USS Shark, later commanding Shark, one of the Navy’s early submarines. In November 1913, he assumed command of the USS F-2. He was in command of that submarine when USS F-4 sank off Honolulu and assisted with her salvage.
Commodore Yates was stationed at the Mare Island Navy Yard, California from October 1915 until April 1918 when he joined USS Michigan, serving as her navigator in operations with the Atlantic Fleet during the remainder of the World War. He was navigator of Texas from December 1918 until May 1921 and had duty at the Naval Training Station, Great Lakes, Illinois, until March 1924, being Officer in Charge of the Radio School on that station from June 1922.
Commodore Yates was navigator of USS Mississippi from March 1924 until June 1926 when he returned to Great Lakes for duty as Assistant Commandant, Ninth Naval District. He attended the senior course at the Naval War College, Newport, Rhode Island, in 1928-1929, and was executive of USS Milwaukee from June 1929 until August 1931.
After a three year tour of duty in the US Naval Reserve Training Corps Unit, University of California, Berkeley, California, Commodore Yates commanded USS Arctic from June 1934 until June 1936. He served in the Bureau of Navigation (now Bureau of Naval Personnel) Navy Department, Washington, DC, from June 1936 until June 1939 when he assumed command of USS San Francisco. Detached from that command in May 1941, he reported for duty in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations in July of that year, performing additional duty at General Headquarters, US Army Field Forces, Army War College, Washington, DC. In February 1942, he was transferred to duty on the staff of the Commander in Chief, US Fleet and continued the above additional duty. From October 1942 until April 1943, he served as Professor of naval science and tactics, Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps Unit, Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island. He was Commandant, Naval Operating Base, Oran, Algeria. For service in that detail he has been awarded the Legion of Merit and the Gold Star in lieu of a Second Legion of Merit, with the following citations:
LEGION OF MERIT:
“For exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States as Commandant, Naval Operating Base, Oran, Algeria, prior to and during the amphibious invasions of the Island of Sicily in July, and the Italian Mainland in September 1943. Charged with the task of providing additional capacity to meet the increased demands of merchant shipping and combatant units operating in the area, Commodore Yates efficiently reorganized various base units to serve and maintain forces afloat. By his tact, ready cooperation and aggressive leadership, he established an amicable relationship with allied authorities and coordinated the combined effort of port facilities toward full support of the forces participating in the two major amphibious operations.”
GOLD STAR in lieu of a second LEGION OF MERIT:
“For exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services as Commandant of the U.S. Naval Operating Base, Oran, Algeria and as a Convoy Commodore participating in the amphibious invasion of Southern France in August 1944. Commodore Yates supervised with extraordinary skill and extremely varied activities of the U.S. Naval Operating Base, Oran, Algeria in rendering vital services to the forces afloat in preparation for the assault operations. Through his expert organizing ability and resourcefulness, extensive major repairs were completed with maximum speed and efficiency, and a high state of material readiness maintained among ships and craft of the fleet at Oran at all times. During the invasion of Southern France, he displayed excellent seamanship as the Commodore of several follow-up convoys composed of Allied ships carrying troops, ammunition, vehicles and supplies in support of the invasion forces. Exercising extreme skill and sound judgment, he brought these convoys safely from assembly ports through the prescribed routes and swept channels to the assault anchorages and expeditiously discharged the vital cargo over the designated beaches, there-by contributing materially to the firm establishment of Allied troops on the beachheads and to the overall success of the invasion. The extraordinary ability, resourceful leadership and outstanding devotion to duty displayed by Commodore Yates reflected great credit upon himself and the Naval Service.”
Commodore Yates had the Victory Medal, Atlantic Fleet Clasp (USS Michigan) and is entitled to the American Defense Service Medal, Fleet Clasp (USS San Francisco) and the European-African Middle Eastern Campaign Medal. His home of record was Vallejo, California and date of death is 14 November 1964.