Tommy Bates lived at 4305 Alabama Ave. and went to Brookside School. He was captain of the school patrol, and the belt he wore in that capacity was proudly worn by subsequent captains, even when it got so raggedy that the principal tried to hide it. Tommy graduated from Park High in 1938, where he was co-captain of the football team, and attended the U of M, studying mining engineering.

When World War II broke out, Tommy was trained as a pilot. Just before he left for England he married Mary Ann Taney on February 19, 1944. In August 1944 he flew (as navigator) from Kearney, Nebraska to England. On his very first flight while in England, his B-17 plane got lost in the fog and crashed. He was killed on August 3, 1944. His best friend, Ellwood Graham, received his last letter. His remains were returned home on August 19, 1948.