Major Herbert Grant Gates

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Major Herbert Grant Gates, USAF (Ret.), 82, born in Kansas City, Mo., and raised in Nevada, Mo., passed peacefully Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013, in Springfield, Mo., with all his children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren gathered, in love and honor, at his side.

Herbert's United States Air Force career began at Misawa AFB in Honshu, Japan. There, as a young helicopter pilot of the 38th Air Rescue Squadron, a 24 year old 1st Lieutenant saved the lives of 14 Japanese sailors, the entire crew of a sinking vessel during a typhoon and tsunami. Lowering his copilot to the ship to help the sailors onto the hoist, Herbert made 15 turns from the ship to shore until every man was safe. He was honored with four medals from the government of Japan. This initial act of daring and courage marked the beginning of a lifetime dedicated to rescue, safety, and protection, nurtured in military service and practiced his entire life as the champion and hero of his family and friends.

During his flight training, Herbert and his class were asked for volunteers to train in a new type of aircraft. Every single man raised his hand. The aircraft was the helicopter. He was decorated numerous times throughout his service. His Vietnam decorations included the Bronze Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal with multiple oak leaf clusters. What he preferred to talk about was the pleasure it gave him to organize charity from home for the Tuey Hua locals. As a member of the 1st Helicopter Squadron at Joint Base Andrews, in our nation's capital, it was his extreme honor to provide airlift for the Executive Department, high-ranking dignitaries, and distinguished visitors. His final assignment, as Commander of the 353rd at Whiteman AFB, was patrolling above our Nation's weapons in the heart of America.

Herb delighted in and cared for his one true love, Jacqueline Joan Oliphant, until she passed in May of 2008. He was her everything 'til the very end and he missed her every day since, until he now joins her.

He was also preceded in death by his father, Herbert Graham Gates; his mother, Neta Lucille Neff (Gates, Cornelius) and his stepfather, "Doc" Cornelius, the latter two of whom he and his wife Jackie personally cared for until their deaths. Also predeceased were his niece, Kelly Herbert; and his cousin, Neta Suzanne Neff.

He is survived by his three children, Cynthia May (husband, Robert Mancuso), Douglas William, and Sally Ellen (husband, Clay Frisbie); his five grandchildren, Joann Elise Sutton, Janie Lynn (husband, Jacob Schlueter), Cally Rae (husband, Thomas Lampe), Cassi Ellen Rose (husband, Tyler Moore) and Grant Clayton; and his six great-grandchildren Andrew Michael, Michael David, Seaana Jacqueline, Madalyn May, Sophia Ellen and Roman Thomas. Also surviving are sister-in-law, Roberta Lee Oliphant (Herbert, Schnell); his niece, Debbie; and nephews, Billy and Brad.

Herbert said all he wanted to do since he was a child was fly, and he would have done it for nothing if the Air Force had wanted him to. He loved golfing, building and flying model airplanes, puzzles, wood working, Jeopardy!, traveling, and sight-seeing. He shared all these with his wife, children, and grandchildren.

Herbert Grant Gates: A Veteran of the United States Air Force and a Veteran of a Life Well Lived. Mission Accomplished, Sir!

A graveside memorial service will be held at 2 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 3, at the Missouri Veterans Cemetery.

Herbert was profoundly affected by the fact that not everyone had as fortunate a life as he was blessed with. He donated regularly to several charitable organizations. He and his family would be deeply honored if, instead of flowers, you would make a donation to your own trusted charity.