Allen E. Cates, a Vietnam veteran, served with the United States Marine Corps from 1960 until 1966 when he was honorably discharged. From July 1966 to May 1974, Cates was employed by Air America. He also served as President of the Air America Association and a board member for five years.

Cates was a Marine Corps helicopter pilot in Vietnam from September 1964 until August 1965. During his career he received several awards: the Distinguished Flying Cross and thirteen Air Medals. Cates resigned his commission in December 1966 while serving as a flight instructor in North American T-28s at the Naval Aviation Training Command.

Within days of resigning his commission, Cates went to work for Air America. He was sent to Bangkok, Thailand for ground school training in C-47s. Within six months he was designated command pilot in the Pilatus Porter and operated out of Saigon, South Vietnam. In June 1969 he went back to Thailand, this time to Udorn, where he was assigned to the rotary wing division. While in that division, Cates flew the UH-34D, Bell UH1D, Hughes 500P, and Twin Pac UH-34D helicopters.

Serving with Air America for more than seven years, Cates managed to log more than 7,000 hours in various types of aircraft, much of which was in combat. He was involved in several rescues of downed airmen in Laos, and took part in medical evacuations, often under fire. Cates actually participated in the Vietnam conflict from September 1964 to May 1974, all but one year of that time as an Air America pilot. Flying with Air America in Vietnam, Cates performed many of the same missions in the same types of aircraft as he did while serving with the Marine Corps.

Due to the nature of the missions he and other pilots and crew flew for Air America in Vietnam, and because the airline was owned by the Central Intelligence Agency, Allen Cates feels they are entitled to veteran’s status or Civil Service Credit, believing that veteran’s status is the better choice of the two. Because of this, Cates is currently working to obtain this for those who served with Air America and Civil Air Transport (CAT). He maintains that Air America employees took part in paramilitary operations with the full knowledge and approval of the CIA and other United States government organizations, and thus, deserve to enjoy the same benefits of those who openly served in that conflict.

Recent Submissions

  • Guide to the Allen E. Cates Papers 

    Nava, Patrizia (2017-10-25)
    Allen Cates served with the United States Marine Corps from 1960 until 1996. After his discharge he joined Air America as a pilot from July 1966 to May 1974. During his eight years with Air America he logged 7,000 hours ...