Sergeant Major of the Army Gates entered the United States Army on August 12, 1958 and attended initial training at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.
In July 1987, he was sworn in and he served until his term ended four years later in June 1991. He served three tours in Germany, two combat tours in Vietnam, and a tour in the Republic of of Korea. His stateside assignments include duty with the 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, the United States Army Infantry School at Fort Benning, Georgia, the 1st Ranger Battalion at Fort Stewart, Georgia, the Virginia Military Institute of Lexington, Virginia and Fort Bliss, Texas.
Sergeant Major Gates has served in numerous non commissioned officer leadership positions, including as first Commandant of the 24th Infantry Division NCO Academy at Fort Stewart, Georgia. Before being appointed as the Strategic Medical Alliances he served as Command Sergeant Major of the 2d Armored Division (Forward), the Command Sergeant Major of the 3d Infantry Division (Mechanized), Command Sergeant Major of the United States. Army Sergeants Major Academy, and the Command Sergeant Major of United States. Forces of Korea.
Awards and decorations 10 Service stripes.