James Francis Bates
James Francis Bates, age 92 of Prescott, AZ died July 11, 2018, in Goodyear, AZ. He was born October 30, 1925, in Buffalo, NY to Frank J. Bates and Lena Copper. James served in the US Army Air Corp from April 1943 to May 1945 achieving the rank of Staff Sergeant. It was his service to his country during WWII that shaped his life. He served as a ball turret gunner on a B24 Liberator in the 464th Bomber Group based in Italy. He flew 35 missions and was part of battles in Northern Apennines, Central Europe, Po Valley, Rhineland and air combat in the Balkans. For his valiant service, he earned the European African Middle Eastern Ribbon with 5 Bronze Stars, Air Medal with 2 Bronze Clusters and an Overseas Service Bar.
After his discharge James’ love of flying endured. He began working in operations for American Airlines and remained with the company until his retirement. He obtained a pilot’s license so that he could continue to fly. In his downtime, he enjoyed making model airplanes. Each plane was meticulously crafted to resemble in every detail the real-life version of the airplane he was modeling. In the end, he had assembled an entire fleet of airplanes.
Independent and self-sufficient, James loved the outdoors. He enjoyed hunting and camping in the Adirondacks. His free-spirit led him on many road trips to places like Alaska, Texas, Las Vegas, San Diego, and any place that his bomber reunion was being held. He loved to be with his fellow veterans where his wit and wisecracks were most appreciated. He was privileged to participate in an Honor Flight to Washington, DC with his daughter-in-law, Ellen where he, along with other veterans, was honored for his service to this country. Though often quiet, if the mood was right, he would tell a great story!
James is survived by his sons, Thomas Bates and his wife Ellen, James Bates and his wife Deborah, brother, Bob Bates; nine grandchildren; and 12 great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his son, Rob Bates.
A memorial service will be held at 11:00 am, Tuesday, October 30, 2018, at Thompson Funeral Chapel, 926 S. Litchfield Road, Goodyear, AZ.