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Donald Norton Yates (1909-1993) was the US Army Air Force officer who helped select June 6, 1944 as the date for D-Day, the Allied invasion of Europe, in his capacity as chief meteorologist on General Dwight D. Eisenhower's staff. Yates and his British counterpart, James Martin Stagg, chose well - it turned out to be the only day that month the English Channelmarker could have been successfully crossed. Yates was subsequently decorated by three governments. He went on to become the chief meteorologist of the newly-formed U.S. Air Force, and Commander of the Air Force Missile Test Center at Patrick Air Force Basemarker in Florida.

Early Life and Career

Yates was born in Bangor, Mainemarker and graduated from Bangor High Schoolmarker in 1927.He went on to the U.S. Military Academy, graduating in 1931, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Cavalry. He later enrolled as a graduate student at the California Institute of Technologymarker, and received a master of science degree in meteorology. Yates became Assistant Chief of the Weather Section in the Operations Division of the Office, Chief of Air Corps, in December 1941. With the outbreak of war, he was appointed the following year Deputy Director of Weather at Army Air Force Headquarters.

On Eisenhower's Staff, and Planning for D-Day

In February 1944 Col. Yates became Director of Weather Service for the U.S. Strategic Air Force in Europe, in addition, serving on General Eisenhower's staff. In this capacity he made, together with British Group Captain James Martin Stagg, the final recommendation of June 6, 1944 as D-Day. The citation accompanying his award of the U.S. Army Legion of Merit stated that "through Colonel Yates' good judgment, skill and sound leadership, reconciliation of the differences in forecasting methods were effected, resulting in the development of a procedure capable of utilizing the talents and facilities of both nations (U.S. and U.K.) and all services in a unified manner. The value of Colonel Yates' advice has since been proven as the day selected for the continental assault was probably the only day during the month of June on which the operation could have been launched." For this he received the Degree of Chevalier in the National Order of the Legion of Honor of France.

Air Force and Promotion to General

Upon his return to the United States in January 1945, Col. Yates was made Chief of the Weather Division which later was merged with the Weather Wing to form the Air Weather Service, which he commanded at Andrews Air Force Basemarker, Md., until 1950. During this period he was promoted to the rank of Brigadier General in 1947, and transferred to the U.S. Air Force. On March 17, 1947, he flew the first scheduled weather reconnaissance mission over the North Polemarker. In 1950, Brig. Gen. Yates was appointed Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Development at Headquarters U.S. Air Force, and the following April he became Director of Research and Development with the Headquarters. He was promoted to the rank of Major General in 1952.

Patrick Air Force Base and the Pentagon

Maj. Gen. Yates was commander of the Air Force Missile Test Center, Patrick Air Force Basemarker, Fla., from 1954 to 1960. During this tour he was awarded the Navy Legion of Merit for his services in connection with the Navy Project Vanguard and the Navy Ballistic Missile Program Polaris. in 1960 Yates was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General and appointed Deputy Director of Defense Research & Rngineering (Ranges and Space Ground Support) at the Pentagon.

Scientific Appointments

Yates was a President of the American Meteorological Society, a member of the Institute of Aeronautical Sciences, and a Fellow of the American Rocket Society.

Yates younger brother Elmer P. Yates also graduated from West Pointmarker and became a Major General in the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers


Air Force Link Biographies: Donald Norton Yates Retrieved June 1, 2008

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