Fallen Heroes of Operation Iraqi Freedom

Remembering the servicemembers who died in the service of their country.

Marine Lance Cpl. Steven C. T. Cates

22, of Mount Juliet, Tennessee.
Cates died due to enemy action in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. He was assigned to 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, I Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Twentynine Palms, California. Died on September 20, 2004.

Please send information, photos, and corrections for Marine Lance Cpl. Steven C. T. Cates.

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"I remember, still"

"It has been over ten years and you are still in my heart brother. I only knew you for a very short time as you joined our unit pretty shortly before we were off to our second deployment to Iraq. I am proud to have spent some of that time drinking a few beers with you and integrating you into our machine guns section. You were a good fit and are still missed 11 years later. I hope your family is doing well Marine and I am missing you from time to time."
Slutty McCutty of MONDAK

"Another year has passed but never a moment without thinking of you Lcpl Cates. I am forever grateful for serving with you brother. Semper Fi."
Cpl Sam Rael of Houston, TX

"I went to school with Taz (as we called him then) He was an awesome friend and was usually happy and smiling. I was deployed at the same time that he was, and when I came home and heard the news all I could do was cry for the loss of one of the most genuine people I have ever known. I'm so sorry for your loss. The world is a little less bright without him."
Maggie of Lebanon, TN

"Dear Mrs. Cates my name is David Melendez, formally Doc Cambray. I was thinking about Cates today. I have never seen this page, but I know deep down that God sent me to this page. You mentioned a Doc meeting with your husband. I think this may have been me, and I thank God for the Divine Appointment. I remember your husband recommiting His life to Jesus. I remember him always having a smile on his face which brought strength and encouragment to my faith. I know that Psalm 73:25 became a reality in His life. I know God gave your husband the gift of salvation, and the gift of faith. I remember when he prayed the sinners prayer with me during one of the services. I do know in God's word that Christ says,"No one comes to me unless my Father draws Him. I do believe the Father was drawing Him to Himself, and Cates was responding to that call and drawing. Ephesians 2:8-9. It brought joy to my heart whenever I saw your husband because of his bright smile. I know that your husband is in a better place in the presence of a loving savior. I want to encourage you to listen to this sermon, and hope it encourages you as it has enouraged myself. http://youtu.be/QTTvxdtBMJU I am glad that your husband fell in love with Jesus and made Him His hope, confidence, and expectation. I hope this for yourself, and for your whole family. I pray that you all will know Christ, His birth, His life, His death and His Resurrection. Knowing Jesus brings a joy that surpasses any understanding, and really is unexplainable. I loved Cates, and I look forward to worshiping the King of Kings with Him one day. Hope in Jesus Mam, seek Him, love Him, and follow His example. SemperFi...docmelendez@ymail.com"
Doc Cambray/Melendez of Baldwinsville/NY/U.S.A

"Tyler, you are my hero. You were only a kid when you answered the call. You gave to us your most valuable possession and nothing we can do can honor you enough. I'll always remember fondly the goofy times! On this Memorial Day, 2012, I and a nation salute you, and I pray we always strive to honor your sacrifice with dignity and morality. God Bless you, sir."
Adam Kelly of Murfreesboro, TN

"Dear LCPL Cates,
I met your wife this weekend. She is a strong woman. She is funny, caring, and is doing well.

Thank you for your service. Rest is peace."
Paula B of Cleveland, oh

"To the Cates Family,
I was honored enough to serve with Steven in Husaybah in 2004 and was a part of the small group of Marines that were with him when he was taken from us. His loss has affected me in ways that I can never fully express. Like a spear through the heart his loss has left me greatly wounded. However with every tragedy there is peace, I will live the rest of my life in honor of his memory and never forget the sacrifice he made."
Formerly: Sgt. Chris Forest of Seattle, WA

"Tyler,

I'm honored to have known you and even more honored to wear the same uniform you wore. I will proudly wear your KIA bracelet to show other Marines your sacrifice for our country. I will never forget you brother and know we'll be guarding our heaven's gates together. Semper Fi."
SSgt Kristy Callis of San Diego, CA

"To the family of:Steven C.T.Cates
I am so sorry for the loss of your love one. My heart cries out for you in your grief and you have my thoughts and prayers. He died a hero defending freedom. May you have the peace and understanding that only comes from God. Prayerfully we will all meet in Heaven one day where we will rest in the arms of Jesus. If you need prayer or need someone to talk to, please call or write my pastor: Rev. John Pearrell 11677 Brown Bridge Rd., Covington, GA 30016. (770)787-1015.
Your friend in Jesus Christ, Polly Ballew Covington,Ga""

"We miss you always, Rest In Peace friend."
Sgt. George Rowland of Afghanistan

"I served with Steve. What a great guy. I always remember a smile and an upbeat attitude. We played cards a lot as his gun team was assigned to my platoon (1st Platoon) I was out in the city a few hundred meters away when Steve got hit and heard the call on the radio. The Marine Corps and the world lost a great person that day."
Steve Cimicata of St. Louis, MO

"to the cates family i would like to visit steven's grave site if you could send me the address you can contact me at travis.clayborne@yahoo.com"

"My Friend "Cates" i remember the first time we met you saved my skin by letting me borrow an extra cover you had since mine had been aquired. after we left gun school we got stationed together in wa state. the fun never stopped i remember the camping trip when we tried to out drink one another.. what good times. i remember the day i opened the newspaper and read that artical i dropped i couldnt believe it you were a great man, a great marine and a great friend, you will never be forgotten"
former Lcpl Clayborne, Travis M. USMC of harriman, tn usa

"to Lcpl Cates you were a great marine and most of all the best friend anyone could ask for i miss the times we had serving together and you will never be forgotten. To the Cates family you have my deepest sempathy he was a good man"
travis clayborne of harriman, tn usa

"My Dear Tyler,

I was blessed to be your step-mother from 10 - 17 years old. I watched you grow from a little blonde boy with small round glasses to become the young man I was so proud of. I miss you more than you know. I hope you look down upon me and think of me as fondly as I think of you. I saw your dad at my father's funeral. I still consider your dad Steve a dear friend of mine. Do me a favor and tell my dad, Larry, hello for me. I hope you two are hunting together in heaven. I love you, Tyler."
Lisa Nunn (formerly Cates) of Nashville, TN

"Hi Lisa,

Remembering you and Tyler on this day. Rest well Marine."
Robert and Meredith Eckard of San Diego, California

"My prayers are with the families and loved ones of all our fallen Heroes. I am the Aunt of Marine CPL Xhacob LaTorre who we lost on Dec. 8, 2009 from injuries recieved in Afghanistan on 8/10/2009. Our family like many others is devastated by our loss.May God bless all our Heroes who will be always remembered with love and pride. My prayers are with them and with those who are still fighting overseas. May they have a safe return home soon. My heart goes out to all of you. I will live forever in pain but I will always look up to heaven with pride. I love you so much Xhacob. Thank you all for keeping us safe. Amen"
Carmen LaSalle of Waterbury, CT, USA

"Lisa and Cates family,
I know I was probably never spoken of but I was a part of that team with Smith and Steven. Til this day I can never forget Steven and his wonderful personality. He could make anyone laugh. I want to give my condolences and hope this finds you well. I can never forget Steven and his sacrifice and I feel blessed to have known such a great Marine. God Bless"
Sam Rael of Houston, TX

"I went to elementary school, jr high, and high school with Tyler. I am sure the last time he and I ever spoke was in Elementary school. We were never close friends. we rode the same bus in elementary school. since his death, there are very few days that i don't think a/b him and his sacrifice. tears come to my eyes. I salute him when going over his bridge. More than anything, I guess that i'm overwhelmed that a boy i kind of new grew up into a man that has completely altered the way i appreciate life. thank you tyler, for your sacrifice and for opening my eyes to how good my life is."
Lindsey E of Hermitage, TN

"To the family and friends of Steven Cates: On Saturday, June 14th (Flag Day) there will be an event in Topeka, KS called The Reading. Volunteers will be reading the names of the fallen from Iraq and Afghanistan. I'll be Reading Steven's name. Each Reader is given a page of 50 names - first name, middle initial, last name, date of death and home state. After each name a bell will toll. The event is expected to take approximately 6 hours to complete. It's important to me the family know of this event in memory of their loved one. Your loved one and friend has not been forgotten. My condolences to his family and friends"
Grace (veterans@netzero.com) of New York

"Memorial Day, 2008
To the family of Lance Cpl. Steven C.T. Cates:
Steven gave the ultimate sacrifice and will be held in the hearts of Americans forever. I cannot and will not let our fallen heroes be forgotten. My deepest sympathy to you. "Some gave all."
Peggy Childers
"Don't Let The Memory Of Them Drift Away"
www.IraqWarHeroes.org"
Peggy Childers of Carson City, NV

"Dear Tyler,
I miss you every day you were like a brither to me even though you werent by blood in my eyes you were. I sit down and think about all the times we had together good and bad and dont regret one second of any of them. I remember the last time i saw you; we were at my house going out on the jetskis and acting crazy as usual and i told you i was thinking about enlisting in the Army and you told me to weigh out all my optionsl; well i have and i am currently enlisted in the army and awaiting deployment to Basic Training. I wish i could have told you how much I loved you bro; but my pride wouldnt always allow that. I wish I couo=ld trun back that day you were deployed to Iraq I would give anything to have you back with us bro. Im sorry itsd taken me this long to write this to you but I am just now able to sit down and think about you without losing control and wanting to go buck wild on whoever wherever. I am finally getting my life on the right path I know its taken me long enough huh? I just want you to know that I MISS YOU BRO AND YOU WILL NEVER BE FORGOTTEN."
Robert Benjamin Shaw of Lebanon, Tennessee United States

"Dear Tyler, I cannot begin to say how much I miss you. There is not a day that goes by that I don't think of you. I remember the day I met you in the hospital, lying in that bassinette that I couldn't take my eyes from. I remember the day that Mom and Dad brought You home from the hospital. I was so excited that I about knocked them down trying to get to hold you. It seems like only yesterday when you were running around the backyard, covered in dirt, chasing me and the dog with whatever creepy crawly thing you found. I remember your hair and how I would have killed to have had it. I remember the times when I was mean to you, but how you never told on me because you didn't want to see me get in trouble, even when I deserved it. I remember camping with you at boyscouts the week before my daughter was born. I remember watching you grow from that stubborn child into a kind, generous and loving man. I remember watching you march out on that field after graduating from boot camp and realizing that you were a grown up. I remember how proud I was. I remember your wedding day and how happy and in love you looked. I remember the advice you gave me before you left and realized that you were right. I remember feeling awful that I didn't say all the things that I needed to say before you left. I remember the day I got the call like it was 10 minutes ago. I still cry every time I think about it. Every day is a new memory. A song, a picture, an advertisement on the tv, everything reminds me of you and all that we share. Dear Brother words will never express how proud of you I am. You became the most kind, selfless, honorable man that I know. You have touched so many lives that you couldn't possibly realize and I am so honored and proud to be your sister. Thank you for being a part of my life and for being my brother, and my hero. I love you and miss you. Love, Sis"
Alisha Willis (Cates) of Hartsville, TN/USA

"I like many here did not know this Marine until today when I recieved a package from herobracelets.org. The package contained 2 braclets, one for my husband Sgt Kristopher Boice who is currently serving overseas for the 4th time and the other a black mermorial band reading "Lance Cpl Steven C T Cates
Mount Juliet, TN Marine 9/20/04". I wondered who this person was that had given all for our saftey and freedom and so I ended up here. I am deeply saddened for such a loss. I am honored to wear Steven's name across my wrist and will do so everyday with pride hoping that others will remember the sacrifices of so many who have given all defending our Nation. Your family will be in my thoughts and prayers and I just wanted to say that the life of this Marine has touched me in a way that cannot be described. My deepest sympathies to the Cates' and my truest admaration to Lance Cpl. Cates for all that he did - the world is better for your having been here."
Carol Boice of Viriginia Beach, Virginia

"Thank You on behalf of Our State and Our Country. I wish I had more words..."
Jennifer Cart of Nashville, TN

"It's been almost 3 years since you left us. Still remember those crazy camping trips, miss you bro."
1stLt Wengel of 2d Bn, 3d Marines

"Tyler was one of a kind and can never be replaced. He was a wonderful student and young man. If he wasn't inside the band room, you could find him in the parking lot working on his car. As he brushed that long hair out of his eyes, you could always find a smile underneath.
I enjoyed the visits he made after his graduation, when he would come back and tell me about his life and what he was doing.
When he left for service I was so proud of his willingness to protect our safety, when I got the news of his death - the tears would not cease. I was honored to be able to stand up for him on the road as he came home that final time and very moved to be able to see him once more before he joined another unit watching over us and protecting us - this time from above.
Thank you to his family for the sacfrice you made in allowing him to touch so many lives in so many places."
Vicky Williams, Director of Mt. Juliet Band

"I never knew LCPL Cates personally...but i just feel honored to know who he even is. Im 17 years old and i live in Mt. Juliet and go to wilson Central High School. I found out about his death my freshman year through Terri Hamblin, a friend of his. At the football game the week following his death, we made signs and a tuba bell cover honoring him. Now i am making the greatest decision of my life. Im joining the marines. I leave next year for bootcamp and will be doing infantry. I will always think of LCPL Cates and his sacrifice, and he will always be a motivation to me to accomplish my goals and to fight for his memory. My brother is now a marine and he will leave for Iraq in September. We will be fighting for him and the Cates family. Thank you for your sacrifice, and I thank God for the oppurtunity for me to serve and give something back. It is my duty, honor and pleasure to fight and perhaps make the same sacrifice that this great man did.

Semper Fi.

Adam Thomas
Never_louder_than_lovely@yahoo.com"
Adam Thomas of Mt. Juliet TN

"Dear Cates Family, you do not know me, but i was searching for another cates, and came across your website. I felt compelled to write something, and say thank you for your sacrifice, and your sons ultimate sacrifice, committment, and belief in our country. I too was a Marine, for six years, and served in the first gulf war for over a year. Each time i look at our Blessed American Flag, it reminds me of those like your son, whom have tolled the bell of freedom for all of us, and the many millions who before us all helped preserve our way of life. Semper Fi Steven C.T. Cates, we'll all see you soon..."
Stotter (Fmr. Sgt USMC) of Orlando, Florida

"TO THE CATES FAMILY FROM THE WAHL FAMILY. HEALING CERTAINLY; IS DIFFUCULT. TAKE IT ONE DAY AT A TIME. BE SUPPORTIVE TOWARD ONE ANOTHER WITH SUCH UNDERSTANDING. STEVEN LOVED YOU ALL VERY MUCH. AN HE KNEW EVERYONE LOVED HIM. YOU ONLY NEED TO REFLECT ON THE FOND AND VERY PRECIOUS MOMENTS. THAT EACH OF YOU SHARED WITH STEVEN. HE IS STILL VERY MUCH IN YOUR HEARTS. HE IS RESTING IN A BETTER PLACE. ALONG WITH MY SON AND ALL THOSE THAT FALLEN. FOURTH OF JULY IN GATLINBURG TENNESSEE IS THE MIDNIGHT PARADE AND FIREWORKS. I ALONG WITH MANY OTHER FALLEN FAMILIES WILL BE ATTENDING. TO ENTER A FLOAT TO HONOUR OUR FALLEN AND SUPPORT OUR TROOPS. STEVEN AND YOUR FAMILY ARE IN MY PRAYS. GOD BLESS! THE FATHER OF FALLEN SOLDIER US ARMY SGT GREGORY L. WAHL KIA BALAD, IRAQ 05-03-04"
leonard_wahl@hotmail.com of Spring Texas

"Dear Lisa Cates and Family,
Most of you do not know me. I was a friend of Tyler's in Junior High and High School and we were also in the band together. It saddens me that after losing touch with Tyler when I graduated in 2000 that the next time I would hear of him would be to hear he was no longer with us. I offer my sympathy and condolences to the whole family. Tyler and I were good friends and I know that he was a very wonderful man. I'm sorry that we had to lose such a precious soul so young but I know we will all be reunited with him soon. I miss him as I know everyone else does. I'm not good at this and I apologize. I wanted to thank Mt. Juliet (and everyone involved as well) for Tyler's memorial bridge. Even if someone did not know him, when they see the bridge they'll know that he died for the greater America. If there is anything I can do for anyone please let me know. I will be praying for all of you. God Bless Tyler and God Bless America."
Gennie Wade of Hermitage, Tennessee

"To the Cate's Family:
Growing up in Wilson County I never had the chance to know Steven but was good friends with a family member of his who looks just like him with the exception of eye color and seeing the hurt this family member went through right down to the dedication of the bridge was generally heartfelt and to see how Steven truely touched so many people's life not in death but in life has truely inspired me thank you for sharing his life's with us."
Christina M. B of Lebanon,Tn

"Thank You Steven, for it is because of you & Men like you that we live free.
God Bless You & Your Family"
Scott of California

"To the Cates Family:
Our thoughts are prayers are with you!
Thank you to your brave marine for making the ultimate sacrifice for our Safety & FREEDOM! Steven is a TRUE HERO and will never be forgotten!
Rest in Peace Marine! Semper Fi!!"
The Grogans of TN....

"God Bless Steven Cates and his family. Thank you for sacraficing your loved one for our daily freedoms. There are no words that will make anything better for you right now, but just know that God is with you all. I am so very sorry for your loss and my prayers are with you."
Anna Nelson of Harriman, Tennessee, USA

"if lisa cates gets the message please e mail me"
christopher smith of csmith7056@yahoo.com

"my name is christopher smith and I was Cates's fire team leader while in Iraq. We were both members Baker company, 1/7. he was an assaultman attached to my fire team. He was a great man who always went on patrol with me. Every time he went on patrol he was always the nicest guy to the iraqi's and i used him many times to translate for me and he always used to pass out candy to the iraqi kids on the street. I remember many times when i would hold frag orders and i'd always designate his position and he was always thrilled to go on patrol, and I remember many times when I would talk to him while we were on post together and he'd talk about his life, wife, and what he wanted to do when he got out of the marines. It was horrible what happened and I feel the greatest sense of regret for it being one of my men and friends and not me. I deepest sense of gratitude goes out to his family and if there is anything I can do to help out, please E mail me"
Lcpl Smith of SAN ANTONIO TX

"Lisa,
I want you to know how sorry I am for your loss. I was with 1/7 B Co in Husaybah Iraq with your husband and was one of the corpsmen who worked on him. Know that we prayed for his salvation and eternal life before he was flown from the combat zone. I now pray for you."
HM2 (FMF) B. T. Wilder of Naval Hospital Bremerton

"(To the family and friends and in memory of Lance Corporal Cates).

On a desolate island in New York Harbor lies the revered Statue of Liberty; nowhere is there a statue of responsibility. In a Philadelphia national park you can witness the tarnished and cracked Liberty Bell. The
fictitious bell of responsibility rests silent, for it does not exists. Many Americans quote from the Bill of Rights, but few speak of a bill of responsibilities. Sure, one may know his or her rights, but does one know his or her responsibilities? Today’s youth seem somewhat reluctant to serve their country and it behooves those who do serve to study and ask the question, why? A majority of this generation has secreted itself behind inert walls of passiveness and curtains of selfish desire. This coma of complacency has continued to plague the nation and in terms of responsibility , weighs heavily on the minds of those who support and defend the constitution.
As with many partialities, patriotism is easy to feign. Its usual expressions, such as waving a flag or acknowledging the civil rights of others, are usually nothing more than unforeseeable gestures. The permissive and casual upbringing in adolescents today has left them with little respect towards anyone and anything. Any person who associates freedom with indulgence may never understand the fundamentals to a feasible democracy. Former President John F. Kennedy once said: “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country”. It seems we have forsaken these words of wisdom and have allowed this epiphany to slide into a vast abyss. His message was clear; freedom is not free. There will be times that fighting for what we believe in will require the ultimate sacrifice. This has been the history behind the making of this country for the last two hundred and thirty years. Our forefathers founded this country by fighting for what they believed in. They achieved this while carrying a rifle in one hand and a bible in the other. As democracy continues to spread into a world of reform, it’s evident that there are those who oppose it. Still, after years of fruitless efforts, advocates around the globe continue to keep the crosshairs aligned on the target of social equality.

One can hardly forget what he or she was doing on that infamous day in American history when the 911 events took place. On that early morning, an interview was being conducted with a young man in Mount Juliet High School. The discussion was interrupted by the tragic announcement from the school’s faculty that horrific events were taking place in New York City. They tuned multiple televisions to local news channels that displayed a scrolling marquee “America Under Attack”. Some students immediately broke down while others stood in awe. Numerous students in their despair exhibited a false sense of hope. Dismayed over the situation, the applicant chose to walk away from the interview with very little to say. In his exit he uttered under his breath, “This is not my fight”.

It is understood that the premises behind enlisting is not always based on patriotism or a pledge of allegiance.
In addition, the ideology of service to country seems somewhat uncompromising and is not an attractive alternative to the conspicuous American dream. Negative perception often passed from generation to generation and unconstructive news agenda often serve as the deterrent to possible applicants. This concern draws the conclusion that engaging in such commitments will result in retribution. The epidemic that has confronted the military today is the increased decline in the recruiting. This has become a major concern for the Pentagon and promotes the biggest manpower crises it will have faced in years. Analysts have been predicting enlistment problems since the start of the recent war. Defense experts concur that in addition to Iraq, skirmishes in Afghanistan and other military commitments around the world have stretched the American forces to their max, while simultaneously discouraging potential recruits from joining up.

Steven Tyler Cates of Mount Juliet, Tennessee was the least bit dissuaded, and enlisted into the United States Marine Corps one week following the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon. He chose security forces as an occupational specialty and when training was completed, Lance Corporal Cates attached to 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment and was stationed at the Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center in Twenty-nine Palms. As a machine gunner, Lance Corporal Cates along with his unit deployed to Iraq in June of 2004 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. On September 20th, 2004 the tragic news had reached his family and friends. Lance Corporal Cates was killed in action while on patrol in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. In letters to home he would tell of foreboding dreams that showed his fate’s end. It was his upbeat attitude and relationship with his fellow Marines that saw him through those dark and dreary times. In his wife’s words “there is no death more fitting or honorable than that for a man as honorable as Tyler”. In his hometown the heavy hearts of friends and family flew their flags at half-mast in honor and memory of their fallen hero. Some men are forgotten, while others and their legacies live long after them. As for Lance Corporal Cates, he will long be remembered for his bravery and unselfish devotion to duty. As a tribute to his service one can only say that the difference between ordinary and extraordinary is that little bit of extra in front of it. Lance Corporal Cates always gave that little extra.

For those who continue to defend it, the American flag has served as a symbol of our nation’s enduring freedom. It has accompanied our troops into battle and has been given to grieving families at the funerals of lost sons and daughters. It reminds us of America's bold attempt to make one unified nation of people from many different ethical backgrounds and beliefs. With respect to diversity, the challenge of seeking unity has played a critical role in the shaping this country. “If a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand” (Mk3:25). Only in unity are there strength and a security. It is time to oust the bias opinions that stem from prejudice and be submissive to the responsibilities we as citizens of the United States must uphold. It is more than just a birthright. Unless Americans truly promote the welfare of their country, they will be estranged from the very being of their bloodline. Patriotism will continue to be seen as the epitome of responsibility, and it must be nurtured in every heart. If given the choice, let freedom ring and the echoes of an old American adage linger, “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”."
Gunnery Sergeant John W. Daniels (Cates Recruiter) of Parris Island, SC.

"I received the call while driving to work – a message through the Bremerton grapevine – learning of Cates’ death. We all called him “Cates,” living in a military state, most people know and refer to each other not with their given name, but as by their last name. I turned the music off, drove past the naval shipyard – a sunny day turned dreary – thinking of the times my friends and I spent with our newly adopted Marine-buddy. We went camping during one of Washington’s hottest Julys ever, and couldn’t stop laughing at him for showing up in fatigues, using a tarp for a tent. I smiled thinking, “Just like a Marine…” He smiled, talked about his life and his family – his mother and father and band – about the honor of a Marine, and high hopes of seeing the sandy hills of Iraq. We talked about cars… a lot. See, Cates and I shared a love for fast cars. We’d made plans to go to the Bremerton Raceway, set up a tailgate party and relax to the smell of burned rubber and hot dogs. I had to drive him back to base after our camping adventure, which, by no means, was any inconvenience to him, enjoying the rough comfort of an old, worn out ’66 Mustang; seeing it more as a beautiful work of art – the way I see it: shiny black with a 427, topped with a 4-barrel Holley – I let him drive the beast down the long stretch of highway between Belfair and Bremerton. His smile grinned ear-to-ear, throwing it into neutral as I screamed, “Don’t do that!” He laughed, “Let’s race!” I squashed his high-hopes: it’s my car, “…and if you keep throwing it into neutral and revving the engine like that, you’ll blow it up or something!” Knowing I street raced didn’t help my case – wickedly laughing, he finally gave up when I threatened, “If you don’t stop it, I won’t ever let you drive my car again!” It was a perfect summer day… A perfect day to remember… The last day I ever spent with my buddy. Our day at the drag strip was abruptly halted when he, without notice, went “under the wire.” The plans quickly turned into a pact, “next summer!” I promised. “Definitely!” He promised back. Driving down the road, I called my mother and informed her, “My friend died…” I was numb to the few words of comfort she offered. “Can you just please have daddy lower the flag to half mast?” That night, I stood in front of the illuminated, lowered flag, and recited the Pledge of Allegiance in honor of my fallen friend."
"Jen." of Bremerton, Washington

"Lisa,

Tyler was a good Man and a good friend of mine, i still recall a time when a bunch of us from 1st platoon took off for a weekend and got his Scout stuck in the mud, muck and the goo. I'm on that video tape he made of that trip, its my last memory Tyler, to this day i know he's watchin down on you and the good ol' boys at Bangor, God Bless and Godspeed"
Corporal Nicholas Gutcheck of Naval Base Kitsap Bangor

"Thank you, Steven Cates. You gave your all... May our Father bless your family and hold them close... Brave young man, you will be missed..."
Souvigney Family of Antioch, Tn

"Thank you Lcpl Steven Cates,
I didn't know you but I can tell that you were a good man because you fought for people that you didn't even know. You fought for your country with pride. I know that you were a good family man, a dedicated husband and a loving and caring person. Sorry that you died and know that your family loves you. You are in a better place."
Tracy B. of william.gant@mnps.org

"Thank you L/cpl Steven Cates for serving our country,
I am an eight grade student in Tenn.I didn't know him but I can tell he is a good man because he fopught for people he didn't even know. He fought for his country with pride. I know he was a good family man and he took good care of his family. Sorry that he died, at least you know that he loves you and your family. He is in a better place now and that is where you want him to be."
Tracy Biggers of william.gant@mnps.org

"Mrs Cates and family,
I never met you and doubt that Cate's would have mentioned me. However I felt compelled to write a little note and pay my deepest respects to your husband. I worked with Lcpl Cates and knew him slightly on a professional level at work. I really got to know him after work at the auto hobby shop where he was an ever present figure. the man was great with cars and always had a helping hand even when he had things to do, he would stop and help anyone a Marine , a sailor or even civilians working on thier vehicles. he was always coming up to me at the shop and checking out my project or asking me to come check out his car and what he had just done to it. He was a great Person to have around with a very easy going spirit and a willingness to help anyone. many times people throw around empty words and I will tell anyone now this is not the case with Lcpl Cates. Upon hearing the news, there were 400 marines standing in a formation remembering a fellow Marine and friend many with tears in thier eyes. There is nothing so moving as seeing several dozen grown men with tears in thier eyes. on a daily basis Cates is remembered and mentioned throughout the company. I know I myself, while only knowing Cates for a year, will remember him for the rest of my life."
Sgt James Iverson

"Lisa,
We met at Tyler's viewing and I shared with you that my husband was also killed in Iraq (11/15/03). I think of you and hope you are staying strong. Contact me if I can do anything for you."
Cherish Piche of Mt. Juliet, TN

"We Will NEVER FORGET !"
Please KNOW, Lisa, so many people share your sadness, and we are remembering your family in your loss and your deep grief. Your HERO, Steven will be remembered by name. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. God Bless you ALWAYS. Pat & Sandi Breckenridge from Montana "

"Dear Lisa,

I am honored to have read the beautiful tribute you wrote about your dear husband, Steven Cates.

I can tell you and he were meant for each other, and I'm sure he is looking after you from heaven.

Thank you for sharing a part of him with me today."
Sandra Moudy of Placentia, Ca

"Dear family of Steven Cates,
Steven made a great contribution for the freedom of all Americans and all Iraqies. It takes a great and honorable person to risk their life for the well being of other people, and I greatly respect and appreciate Steven's contributions for this. I strongly appologize for your loses, but I know Steven is in heaven watching over you, along with every peace and freedom loving American. He was a great man. One that thought about other people above himself. I will pray for him tonight, and wish that when I grow up I will be as great of a man as he was. GOD BLESS AMERICA."
Boris Braziler of Rocky Hill High School, CT

"This was the speech I made, as Tyler's wife, at his funeral.

My husband, Lcpl Steven Charles Tyler Cates, was killed on Monday Sept. 20, 2004 by a man behind a sniper rifle. A coward who knew he wouldn’t get the best of a United States Marine at a closer range. Tyler was a proud Marine, a proud American, a proud son, grandson, brother, uncle, nephew, cousin, and a proud husband. The day before his death, I received an email from him telling me that he would be with me always, even if it meant he would be in a better place. Tyler also told me before he left that he had been having dreams that he would not make it back from Iraq. But he went anyway and had an upbeat attitude with every letter, email, and phone call I got from him. Tyler was truly an amazing person. He was one of the best people I have ever met and the best thing that ever happened to me. We were supposed to have a long and happy life together. We were planning a trip to Italy when he got back from Iraq. We were going to buy land and build a log home. None of those things will happen now, but what gives me peace is knowing that at the time of his death he was the closest to the Lord he had ever been in his life. His letters said that he had hooked up with a Corpsman whom Tyler called a Jesus Freak and he was impressed with that. They had been reading the Gospel of John and praying together every day. Tyler had asked me to send him his own study Bible, and I had, but he was never able to receive it. He told me that getting to know God better would strengthen our marriage and that he wanted to make sure we would be in Heaven together. Tyler was a wonderful husband. We had our moments, but the good times far outweighed the few bad. There were nights I would come home late from work or school and there would be a bouquet of flowers in a vase on the counter. There was no one more perfect for me. I just wish that we had had more time together. As wonderful as it was, our marriage was just way too short. And Tyler had just come to the point where he could actually remember both my birthday and our anniversary. He was so bad with dates, but it was one of his charms. He had so many charms and talents and he will truly be missed. He died fighting for the safety of the United States and the freedom of the Iraqi people whom he knew could not help themselves. He wrote me several times about the hope he had for the future of the Iraqi children. There is no death more fitting or honorable than that for a man as honorable as Tyler. As I close, I would like to dedicate a moment of prayer, in Tyler’s honor to his fellow Marine and life-long friend, Wesley Becker. Wesley was in a severe accident over the weekend and could not be here today, although he desperately wants to be. Please bow your heads and ask God for a speedy and complete recovery for Wesley.
Pause
Thank you and God Bless everyone who took the time today to honor Tyler."
Lisa Cates of Nashville, TN

"Marine LCpl Cates,
May GOD have his arms wide open and greet you with a smile...opening the gates of heaven...to receive a fallen hero who fought the good fight for all of us. My prayers are with you son."
Christopher Sullivan of Houston, TX

"God bless you son for your eternal sacrifice for this country and the country of Iraq. May your strength and courage be an inspiration for generations to follow--A fellow Tennessean."
Christopher Hagan of Murfreesboro, TN

"Thank you brave soldier for sacrificing your today for my children's safer tomorrow. You have our utmost respect and gratitude. May God provide your family with comfort in their time of sorrow. May you forever rest in Heavenly peace. Neither you nor your sacrifice will be forgotten."
a grateful family in Phoenix,AZ

"Lisa~ I was devasted for you when I heard this horrible news. Tyler was a very special person who with his smile and light heartedness made everyone around him feel right at ease. I remember thinking how well suited you two were, and how in love you both seemed. It made me happy to be around you two. Not only did you share that happiness with each other but everyone around you. I feel very fortunate and blessed to have met and known both of you. My heart goes out to you and your family. Mike has also been very moved, He was very impressed by Tyler, and how very proud he was to be a marine. People like Tyler are few and far between. People with contagous smiles, Who can joke and tease but still be taken serious at the same time. We have all lost something very dear in Tyler. I can only pray that our nation understands and appreciates the gift Tyler has given us all. Not only did Tyler give the ultimate gift but he has also taught us what true bravery, patriotism, kindness, selflessness, honor, valor,and heroism are. I only had the privelidge and honor of knowing Tyler a very short while and am deeply saddened by his loss, I can only imagine how all who really knew him are feeling. Lisa if you need anything at all please call. You and your family are in my prayers, and may god bless and keep Tyler until you can be with him again. God bless all who have fallen and all who still fight. sincerly saddened Sam Seney"
Sam Seney of Bremertion,Washington,USA

"Corporal Cates, goodbye soldier and thank you. You are my hero."
Bill of Houston, Texas

"To the family and friends of Lance Corporal Steven C. T. Cates,

Those we hold most dear, never truly leave us. May you find comfort in love's everlasting connection.

In the Support section of this web site you will find links to many groups that support you at this crucial time. The Marine Comfort Quilt group would be honored to send a quilt to the next of kin. There are many, loving and caring Americans from all over the United States that will never forget the sacrifice that your loved one has made for our Freedom. Please register so we can send you our "Love Stitched Together."

Proud Marine Mom and Proud Member of Marine Comfort Quilts"
Sandra Moudy of Placentia, Ca

""To the family and friends of Lance Cpl. Steven Cates:
May God's grace be with you during this time of grief. My son, Brian Hogie, is in C 1/7 in al Qaim and I can only imagine your sense of loss. You are in my prayers. Contacthogie@sbcglobal.net"
Stephen Hogie of Santa Ana, California

"My deepest sympathy, our family has also suffered the loss of a prescious life in this battle for freedom. May God bless you and help you through this time. Forever in our hearts a hero Steven C. T. Cates."
Amy & Aaron Monier of Waterford, MI.

"My daughter, Lauren, was in the band and winter drumline at Mt. Juliet High School with Tyler. My son is currently in the Mt. Juliet High Band. Saturday evening as we returned from a long day at a band contest, the kids were thinking of Tyler and his example to them. The timing of getting home closely coincided with the procession bringing Tyler's body home. Mr. Cox stopped the band buses and the current band members lined the roadside in respect as the procession passed. It was a moment that those kids and I will never forget. As a band booster mom then and now, I get to be around the kids as they practice hard and perform. I appreciated Tyler's work playing the baritone and tambourine then, and I am very proud of Tyler as a Marine now. I am humbled by the ultimate sacrifice that he made for our country as a Marine. I will never forget. Please know that our prayers and thoughts are with you in this time of sorrow and grief."
Elisabeth Spicer of Mt. Juliet, Tennessee

"This is Lisa, the wife of Lcpl Cates. Thank you all for your kinds words. Nothing will ever replace Tyler, but it is comforting to know how much people care. I will pass your thoughts on to the rest of his family. Thank you again.

P.S. For those who will not be able to make it to the memorial on Wed. I will try to remember to copy some of the speeches made to this site, so that you may come to know how great a man my husband truly was."
Lisa Cates of Madison, TN USA

"To Steve, Patricia and Lisa,
Tyler was so very special in so many ways. We have memories of him that will make us laugh and cry. He was a proud Marine and completely believed in what he was doing. Before he shipped out I told him I love him and I meant it. He will be truly missed by my family."
Pat Hamblin of Gladeville, TN USA

"I want to express my deepest sympathies to the Cates family. I went to high school and was in the band with Tyler at Mt. Juliet. I graduated in 1999 and didn’t know him very well, but I am honored to have known him at all. I am very proud of Tyler and humbled by the sacrifice he made for our great nation. My thoughts and prayers will be with him and his family, as well as all of those who are serving in harms way.
God Bless and SEMPER FI!

Very Respectfully,

Justin M. Cobb
Ensign, United States Navy

jmcwareagle@yahoo.com"
Justin Cobb of Pensacola, FL

"To Tyler's family and his other friends,
I love you all and I grieve with you. He was a great person and a wonderful friend. He had a heart of gold and Lisa, I am so sorry for you loss after such a short time. I remember your wedding like it was yesturday. Just remember that he loved you with all his heart and he was protecting us all. We should all feel grateful for his sacrifices. I will always be here for all of you with anything you need that I may be able to help, night or day."
Angela (Humphrey) McHone -- angela.humphrey@vanderbilt.edu of Mt. Juliet, TN

"To Steven's Family:
There are no words to express the sorrow we feel for your loss. May God bless you and help you through this time."
Dan and Meg Manninen of San Antonio, Texas

"To the family of Steven,
Our sincerest condolences for your loss. Our family has also suffered the loss of a precious life in this battle for freedom. It is with pride that Steven will always be remembered for his bravery and sacrifice he gave to our country. May God bless you during this difficult time."
The McClain family ----azquail@att.net of Tucson, AZ

"To Steven's Family and Friends:

On behalf of the Blanco-Caldas family, we send our sincerest condolences. We share the same loss ... the same pain. Our prayers are with you in this most difficult time and we thank you for your soldier's bravery and sacrifice.

Sincerely,

The Family of Capt. Ernesto M. Blanco-Caldas, 82nd Airborne
KIA Iraq 12/28/2003.
Gloria Caldas (The Big Ern's Mom) of San Antonio, TX
gloria.caldas@banksterling.com"

"Thank you Steven Cates, you will not be forgotten. Your bravery goes beyond words. I want to express my deepest gratitude for your sacrifice. To the family and friends, my prayers and deep condolences in your loss. May God strengthen you from knowing that fellow Americans and people around the world care about you and grieve with you in your loss. God bless you all. A very appreciative fellow American,"
Leo Titus of Grayslake, Illinios

"To the family and friends of Lance Cpl. Steven Cates:
May God's grace be with you during your time of grief. Please know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and we feel your loss and share in your sorrow. Bless Steven for the sacrifice he has made to make a better life for the rest of us."
The Ford Family of Wells, Nevada

"To the family and friends of Lance Cpl. Steven Cates:
I am saddened by the loss of your loved one. He will always be remembered as a hero for fighting for freedom. I hope that this website will be a source of comfort and encouragement for you during this difficult time, and in the future as you recall the memories of Steven, who continues to live on in your heart."
Tim Rivera of Powder Springs, Georgia

Honor them by remembering... Freedom - is their gift to us But his soul goes marching on