Last WWII veteran in Georgia Legislature, John Yates, dies

John Yates, the last World War II veteran to serve in the Georgia General Assembly, has died. He was 96.

Yates became one of a small number of Republicans in the Georgia House at the time he was first elected in 1988. After losing re-election, he ran again in 1992 and remained in office until 2016 representing a district based in Griffin.

Yates flew more than 200 missions near or over enemy lines for the U.S. Army, and he was awarded six air medals and four battle stars, according to his House biography. He served during the Battle of the Bulge, the last major German offensive on the Western Front in 1944 and 1945.

After the war, Yates worked for Ford Motor Company as a biller and later as a manager for the Los Angeles Parts Distribution Center. In the Georgia House, he was chairman of the House Defense and Veterans Affairs Committee and a member of the House Appropriations Committee.

His death was confirmed Monday by the office of House Speaker David Ralston.

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“John Yates was a public servant and a patriot — a hero in the truest sense of the word,” Ralston said. “He understood better than most the meaning of sacrifice.”

Funeral services will be held Saturday in Griffin.

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