Billy Byers Cates

Memorial Location


  • Corporal; Rifleman. First Battalion, Twenty-ninth Marines, Sixth Marine Division
  • Served in The Field: October 12, 1943 to May 15, 1945
  • World War II
  • Presidential Unit Citation, Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal, Purple Heart w/Gold Star
  • Wounded in Action June 28, 1944, Mariana Islands, Saipan
  • Killed in Action May 15, 1945

Billy Byers Cates was born February 16, 1926 in Sulphur Springs, Texas to Buford A. Cates and Mary Byers. He attended Southern Methodist University, Dallas TX, where he was a member of ROTC for one year prior to joining the US Marine Corps October 12, 1943. He attended Basic Training at the Infantry Battalion, Training Center, Camp Elliott, S.D., CA. He satisfactorily completed an eight-week course in INF-BAR on 19Feb44.

Billy Byers embarked aboard S.S. SANTA MONICA 5Mar44 and arrived Pearl Harbor 11Mar44. Effective 1May44 his designation was changed to the 1st Battalion, 29 Marines (Reinforcement). He embarked 11May44 aboard USS NEVILLE at Hilo, Hawaii. After participating in maneuvers at sea and in the Hawaii Islands, he arrived and disembarked Saipan, Mariana Islands, 15Jun44.

He served in the 6th Marine Div., 1st Battalion, 29th Marines (Reinforcement), while attached to the 2nd Marine Div., in the defeat of the Japanese forces on Saipan.

“This battalion landed on the Japanese base of Saipan, Marianas Islands, on D-day, 15 June 1944 and immediately upon landing was attached to CT-8 and subsequently committed to front-line action on the original beachhead. For a period of twenty days until the zone of action of this Division was completely secured it occupied front-line positions, participating in attacks against most determined resistance over the most difficult terrain the island offered. During this entire period due to tactical considerations and the nature of enemy resistance, it was at no time relieved from its front-line positions. In its advance over very difficult terrain, including the main ridge of Mount Tapotchau, the commanding terrain feature of the island, it successfully repulsed numerous counter-attacks and overcame many pockets of inordinately tenacious enemy resistance, including heavy machine gun and mortar fire. In its advance it suffered very heavy casualties. Despite these losses, this battalion continued its attacks and advances with unabating vigor and persistence. It has been a pleasure to have under my command these officers and men who were of inestimable value to the success of the operation as a part of the 2d Marine Division, Reinforced. The parent organization of the 1st Battalion, 29th Marines can well be proud of the accomplishments of this battalion during the Saipan operation.”
Commanding General, T. E. Watson

Billy Byers was wounded in action 28 June 1944 and received a Purple Heart with Gold Star. He was line- promoted to Corporal 28Dec44. He embarked onboard the USS LEON on 14Mar45 at Guadalcanal, British Solomon Islands and sailed there from 15Mar45. Arrived and disembarked 1APR45 at OKINAWA, Ryukjyu Retto and participated in action against enemy Japanese forces. Billy Byers Cates was killed in action 15May45 from shrapnel wounds, at the age of 19.

Interred Okinawa, Ryukyu Island. 8072 6th Marine Division, 8-4-88. Transported to Restland Memorial, Dallas Texas in 1948.

The battle of Okinawa, also known as Operation Iceberg, took place from April-June 1945. It was the largest amphibious landing in the Pacific theater of World War II. It also resulted in the largest number of casualties with over 100,000 Japanese casualties and 50,000 casualties for the Allies.

Biography by Jerry Walker, Cousin of Billy Byers Cates.