American300 Public Affairs - 10/20/14
American300 Service with Honor brings three time purple heart recipient to U.S. Coast Guard District 5 Stations this week and next.
When John Bates was awarded his third purple heart for combat actions in Vietnam it earned him a flight back to the States and a ticket out of the United States Marine Corps. The only problem was the young Sergeant didn’t want either.
Having survived machine gun fire to the chest, the searing heat of fragmentation in his legs from a grenade and being skewered by a 3 foot tall punji stake, war had left it's marks on the Marine inside and out. The wounds, experienced over the span of nearly a year in Vietnam’s jungles had taken their pound of flesh out of the Marine literally.
What hadn’t been taken out of the Marine was the desire to stay in the Corps. When word came down from command that he would be medically retired the news came as a fourth shock every bit as devastating as the three combat injuries.
Facing the reality of being a Veteran years ahead of schedule, Bates decided to pickup where he’d left off in college prior to enlisting just a few years prior. Over the span of half a decade, college credits eventually lead to several degrees.
With bachelor and master degrees in hand and capable of running marathons and ultra -marathons, Bates started requesting permission to come out of retirement... to re-enter the active duty Marine Corps.
After years of being told no, the Navy Medical Board finally signed off on his health records and gave the Marines the final say on allowing reinstatement.
Marine Headquarters said yes, provided Bates could pass Officer Candidates School.
The rest of the story is history. Colonel John Bates Jr. USMC retired went on to serve in numerous command positions over the span of thirty-three plus years of service including two more combat tours in Kuwait and Iraq.
Service with Honor is one of the many signature resiliency tours that all volunteer nonprofit American300 produces for the Department of Defense throughout the year.
Follow this Service with Honor Tour at: www.American300.org and on facebook at ‘American300 Tours’
This tour is supported by USCG MWR and USCG HQ Public Affairs. No federal endorsement of sponsors or nonprofit is intended or implied - American300.org