John Olin Bates, Jr.

NO. 17690  •  11 August 1926 – 12 June 1952

Killed in Action June 12, 1952, in Korea, Aged 25 Years.


On the plaque by J.O. Bates, Jr.'s crypt In the Hillcrest Mausoleum at Dallas, Texas, is inscribed, "ln grateful memory of 1st Lt. John Olin Bates, Jr., killed in action in Korea on 12 June 1952, while in command of Company "A", 180th Infantry Regiment, 4th Division in the assault of T-Bone Hill." These words express well the quiet dignified nature of the man himself. The strength of his conviction in dedicating himself to the service of his country was unrelenting and there was no moment in his manhood when J.O. doubted the magnificence of the goal he had set before himself.

Born 11 August 1926, the son of Mr. and Mrs. J.O. Bates, J.O. attended public school in Fort Worth, Texas. During those years he played on the high school golf team and was twice winner of the Texas Junior Trapshooting Championship. J.O. had a great love for his home and family and it was through close association with his father, on fishing and hunting trips together, and in their mutual interests in trapshooting and gun collecting, that J.O. developed his enthusiasm for numerous sports and his excellent skill in the use of firearms.

J.O. was descended from a Southern family which was very proud of its affiliation with the Confederacy. It was only natural upon graduation from High School that J.O. entered the Virginia Military Institute. While there, he joined the Army Air Forces, leaving V.M.I. in October 1944 when called into the Service. Shortly thereafter he transferred to the Infantry and attended the Infantry Officers' Candidate School, graduating in 1945. His convictions concerning the Army, and particularly the Infantry, were confirmed during that time.

In July 1946, J.O. joined the ranks of the Corps of Cadets at West Point. His calm assured manner in the face of the challenges of Plebe year marked him even then as a man who entertained no doubts concerning his dedication to the service of his country. His athletic ability soon evidenced itself in the countless sports that he engaged in at the Academy, but most particularly, he established himself us a skeet shooting enthusiast, with golf following close behind. As a tribute to both his shooting ability and to his fine character he was elected Captain of the Skeet team that won the Eastern Collegiate Skeet Championship in 1960. Only a year before he had won the Eastern Collegiate Individual Skeet Championship match. He won 3 varsity letters in golf, in addition to intramural awards in soccer and volley ball. The sportsmanship he displayed in every competition won him the highest esteem of his friends and acquaintances: His success In athletics, and his magnificent attributes of leadership while at the Academy were indicative of the tremendous potential of this man. He, perhaps more than any I have known, was destined for the top in the career he had chosen. J.O. was soft spoken but confident, quiet but aggressive, and he had the wonderful sense of humor so essential to a successful troop leader. All who knew J.O. admired him for his strength of character and the friendly disposition which he displayed in his relationship with everyone.

So it was with the mark of success implanted upon J.O. that we watched him graduate from the Military Academy. He had chosen the Airborne School as his first assignment and it was with a great deal of enthusiasm that he looked forward to this tour of duty. It was this enthusiastic attitude and natural quality of leadership that caused many in his cadet company at West Point to accompany him in this stern test of determination. During his tour with the Airborne, he qualified for his senior paratrooper wings, making a total of 34 jumps, further demonstrating the spirit of determination inherent in his attitude toward his career.

On 2 February 1952, J.O. married Nell Jane Sosebee of Fort Worth, a graduate of Mary Washington, University of Virginia. Although J.O. had initially been assigned to Germany shortly before his marriage, he requested duty in Korea, and had only a short period of a few months with Nell prior to leaving for Korea. The same spirit of determination and devotion to the service of his country that he had displayed at West Point once again forbade his accepting the easy path.

In June 1952, J.O. was killed in an attack on an enemy-held hill. For conspicuous heroism, J.O. was awarded (posthumously) the Silver Star, his citation for which reads in part:

"First Lieutenant John Olin Bates, Jr. is cited for gallantry in action against an armed enemy near Karhyon-ni, Korea. Company "G" was counterattacking the bitterly contested Hills 191 and 183 and the company was being subjected to a bitter barrage of enemy artillery and mortar fire on the slopes of the hills. When the company commander was wounded, Lieutenant Bates reorganized the men and continued to the objective. While assaulting Hill 191 a severe barrage of enemy fire was placed on one of the advancing platoons, causing numerous casualties. Lieutenant Bates hurried to the platoon's position under heavy enemy fire and organized the evacuation of the wounded and the dead. He directed litter teams through the exploding shells to where the wounded lay, comforting and inspiring the men until they could be evacuated. While fearlessly moving from person to person, disregarding his safety to give aid and comfort to his men, Lieutenant Bates was hit by enemy fire and fatally wounded."

That was J.O. He was a Texan and proud of his State. He was an officer and proud of his Army. He gave his life in devotion to his country, and I offer these words to J.O. for his parents, his sister, his wife, and myself:


He fell today upon a hill in far Korea and he will not come again unto this land he loved so well, as he had planned.

He fought my fight and gave his all to stem the tide and to forestall the threat to freedoms that I prize.

Pray God that I may realize this sacrifice in this grim war and live life worth his dying for.
— By Julien C. Ilyer

And to Jane Olin, the daughter born after J.O.'s death, I want to say that your father was my greatest friend, and the finest person I shall ever know. He gave his life leading men in combat. And I feel strongly that if he had to die,he would not have had it happen any other way had he had a choice.

- Kenneth E. Murphy, Class of 1950