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Allen E. Cates Papers

Identifier: CA066-03

Scope and Content

This collection arrived in good condition and contains documents of formal application for veteran’s status, background information on Cates, historical information about CAT and Air America, copies of contracts, rules of employment, information about the various aircraft flown by CAT and Air America, a list of people killed in action while employed by these two companies, and other materials that were created and/or collected by Allen E. Cates in his on-going attempt to gain veteran’s status for Civil Air Transport (CAT) and Air America employees. The framed item was commissioned by Allen E. Cates. The Allen E. Cates Papers are housed in two manuscript boxes and one framed item totaling 3.8 linear ft.


  • Creation: 1999 - 2008
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 2003 - 2006


Language of Materials

Collection is in English.

Access Restrictions

Materials in this collection are open for research.

Literary Rights Statement

The material in this collection was compiled by Allen Cates from various sources in an effort to support his position to obtain veteran’s status for former CAT/Air America employees. Cates may not have obtained permission from the copyright owners to use this material. Thus, it is advised that the researcher obtain permission from the various copyright owners to use this material for other than “fair use” as described in the U.S. Copyright laws. The copyright to the framed item remains with the aviation artist Joe Kline.

Biographical Sketch

Allen E. Cates, a Vietnam veteran, served with the United States Marine Corps from 1960 until 1966 when he was honorably discharged. From July 1966 to May 1974, Cates was employed by Air America. He also served as President of the Air America Association and a board member for five years.

Cates was a Marine Corps helicopter pilot in Vietnam from September 1964 until August 1965. During his career, he received several awards: the Distinguished Flying Cross and thirteen Air Medals. Cates resigned his commission in December 1966 while serving as a flight instructor in North American T-28s at the Naval Aviation Training Command.

Within days of resigning his commission, Cates went to work for Air America. He was sent to Bangkok, Thailand for ground school training in C-47s. Within six months, he was designated command pilot in the Pilatus Porter and operated out of Saigon, South Vietnam. In June 1969, he went back to Thailand, this time to Udorn, where he was assigned to the rotary wing division. While in that division, Cates flew the UH-34D, Bell UH1D, Hughes 500P, and Twin Pac UH-34D helicopters.

Serving with Air America for more than seven years, Cates managed to log more than 7,000 hours in various types of aircraft, much of which was in combat. He was involved in several rescues of downed airmen in Laos, and took part in medical evacuations, often under fire. Cates actually participated in the Vietnam conflict from September 1964 to May 1974, all but one year of that time as an Air America pilot. Flying with Air America in Vietnam, Cates performed many of the same missions in the same types of aircraft as he did while serving with the Marine Corps.

Due to the nature of the missions, he and other pilots and crew flew for Air America in Vietnam, and because the airline was owned by the Central Intelligence Agency, Allen Cates feels they are entitled to veteran’s status or Civil Service Credit, believing that veteran’s status is the better choice of the two. Because of this, Cates is currently working to obtain this for those who served with Air America and Civil Air Transport (CAT). He maintains that Air America employees took part in paramilitary operations with the full knowledge and approval of the CIA and other United States government organizations, and thus, deserve to enjoy the same benefits of those who openly served in that conflict.


"Allen E. Cates Papers", Box 1, Folder 1, History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas.


3.8 Linear Feet (Two manuscript boxes, one framed item)


Allen Cates served with the United States Marine Corps from 1960 until 1996. After his discharge he joined Air America as a pilot from July 1966 to May 1974. During his eight years with Air America he logged 7,000 hours in various aircraft both fixed-wing and helicopters. He was active in Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, and flew rescue missions and evacuations, many under fire. Allen Cates also served as a President of the Air America Association, as well as a board member for five years. Allen Cates is currently working to obtain veteran's status for those pilots who served with Air America. Much of the material in this collection represent items he collected as support for this goal.

Series Description

This collection is arranged on the folder and item level by topic.


The Allen E. Cates Papers were donated to the History of Aviation Collection, Special Collections and Archives Division, Eugene McDermott Library, The University of Texas at Dallas, in multiple accessions by Allen Cates from 2003 through 2012.

Additional Sources

For more information about the entitlement to veteran's status view the Fred Walker Papers CA010-07, the Dave Hickler Papers CA054-03, the Jerry Fink Collection CA002-93, and other collections within the CAT/Air America Archives. A second copy of the framed item is at Texas Tech University, The Vietnam Archives.

Image ID

It is the researcher's responsibility to secure permission from copyright holders of materials to which this institution does not own copyright.

Images in this collection are identified by a unique number that provides information about the format, record group, collection, series, box, folder, and image numbers. Please use this number when ordering reproductions of images from this collection.

Record Group Code

1 = CAT/Air American Archives

2 = Doolittle Archives

3 = Lighter than Air Archives

4 = George H. Williams, Jr., World War I Aviation Library

5 = History of Aviation Archives

6 = University Archives

7 = HAC Stacks

8 = WPRL Stacks

9 = Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Collection

10 = Belsterling Collection

11 = Closed Stacks

12 = Unidentified

13 = Chance Vought Archives

14 = Twirly Birds Archives

Image Format Code

P = Photograph/Postcard

S = Slide

N = Negative

T = Positive Transparency

B = Black and White

C = Color

Example: 1AEC-1-1-PC1

1 = CAT/Air American Archives

AEC = Allen E. Cates Collection

= Series Number

1 = Box Number

1 = Folder Number

P = Photograph/Postcard

C = Color

1 = Image Number

Images archived in plastic image holders may also have a location code in the format: 1/TL. In this example, the number is the sheet number and the letters indicate the top left position on the sheet. Position indicators are T = top, L = left, R = right, M = middle, and B = bottom. Position indicators may be combined to describe the position on the sheet, as shown in this example.


Guide to the Allen E. Cates Collection
Paul A. Oelkrug, CA, 2004-05-20. Arranged and processed by Milton Bludworth.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
English (eng)
Edition statement
First revision by Patrizia Nava, CA. 2017-09-20. Second revision by Patrizia Nava, CA- 2020-08-28.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections and Archives Division, History of Aviation Archives. Repository

3020 Waterview Pkwy
Suite 11.206
Richardson Texas 75080 US