Vergil Howard Bates – Colonel, United States Air Force

Vergil Howard Bates, 77, a retired Air Force colonel who later became a banker and cattleman, died of prostate cancer March 13, 1998at his home in Winchester, Virginia.

Colonel Bates was born in Garner, Iowa, and graduated from Illinois State University. He began his military career in 1942 and during World War II flew 35 combat missions on B-24 aircraft based in Italy. He also served in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. He was a command pilot and graduate of the Air War College, and he served in B-52 wings of the Strategic Air Command for most of his career.

In 1968, he settled in the Washington area, and he retired in 1974 after having served as chief of the Air Force Command and Control Center at the Pentagon. He received three awards of the Legion of Merit.

In retirement he raised Black Angus cattle at a farm in Clarke County, Virginia. At his death he was president of Big Apple Mortgage Co. in Winchester.

He had served on the Clarke County Planning Commission and was a member of Braddock Street United Methodist Church and the Winchester Rotary Club. He had served on the Wesley Council of Wesley Theological Seminary.

Survivors include his wife of 56 years, Della Haddy Bates of Winchester; three children, Christopher Kent Bates of White Post, Va., Jeffrey Howard Bates of Marshall and Deborah Lee Bates of Baltimore; and four grandchildren.


A Tribute To Colonel Bates From A Friend

By Pamela J. Kelmer, April 1998

“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone.”
— Harriet Beecher Stowe —

With a heavy heart I said farewell to my friend Colonel Vergil Bates in March, 1998, as his earthly remains were committed to the hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery. And although I have shed tears, they belong to neither loss nor regret. I mourned only the passing of the physical, for Vergil’s higher self is with me always.

In this lifetime I was allowed the privilege of calling him both friend and mentor. We shared a love of aviation and a deep regard for nature. Vergil once accorded me more respect in a simple, selfless statement, than most people receive throughout their entire lives. For this, I am forever in his debt.

I truly hope that in the next lifetime, if only for the briefest of moments, we recognize each other and exchange a smile of remembrance.

Pamela J. Kelmer Pt. of Rocks, Maryland

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