From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Chester Gates, Jr. '43

Date of birth: December 21, 1921

Date of death: July 10, 1956

Age: 34

Lucky Bag

From the 1943 Lucky Bag:


Chester was lost on July 10, 1956 when his F7U Cutlass went missing on during a flight from Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia. He was commanding officer of Attack Squadron (VA) 86 (and had been since May 1955). Another aircraft in the flight was also missing; the presumption is that they had a mid-air collision. The other pilot was also lost.

From researcher Kathy Franz:

He was married with two children in Virginia Beach, Virginia. Father was Chester, died 1963, mother was Phebe, died 1995, and brother was Edward.

From the Class of 1943 anniversary book "25 years later…":

Pearly was born in Arcadia, Florida on 21 December 1921. He was appointed from Kansas and entered the Academy on 7 June 1939. After graduation he reported to the cruiser USS CHESTER which survived being torpedoed in October 1942 off Guadalcanal and participated in the Marshalls, Gilberts, Tarawa and Palau Operations in the Pacific. In July 1944, Pearly attended Fire Control School in Washington, D.C. and later reported aboard the carrier USS LAKE CHAMPLAIN. Flight training followed in March 1946 with Fighter Squadron ONE HUNDRED TWELVE as his first operational flight duty.

This was followed by duty in jet gunnery school and on the Staff of Commander, Carrier Air Group ONE HUNDRED ONE. Post Graduate study lasted from June 1951 through June 1954 while obtaining a master’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering at the Post Graduate Schools in Annapolis and Monterey, California and at the California Institute of Technology. Duty as Executive Officer and then Commanding Officer of Fighter Squadron EIGHTY-FOUR and later Commanding Officer of Attack Squadron EIGHTY-SIX. It was in this latter capacity that Pearly lost his life in a plane crash off NAS Oceana, Virginia on 10 July 1956.

He wore the following medals: American Defense Service with Fleet Clasp, American Area Campaign, European-African-Middle East Area Campaign, Asiatic-Pacific Area Campaign with four bronze stars, the Korean Service, United Nations, and WWII Victory Medal. He was survived by his wife Dorothy Gleason and their sons Christopher Gleason and Geofrey Steens who at Chet’s death lived at 103 Brandon Road, Bay Colony, Virginia Beach, Virginia.


Chester survived the crash of his F9F-2B Panther in 1951 when he failed to pull out of a practice strafing run and hit a tree.

Related Articles

William Austin '51 was a member of his squadron and was piloting the other plane that was lost.

Class of 1943

Chester is one of 84 members of the Class of 1943 on Virtual Memorial Hall.

The "category" links below lead to lists of related Honorees; use them to explore further the service and sacrifice of the alumni in Memorial Hall.