The U.S.S William H. Bates (SSN-680) was a physical ship, but more than that, it was a military unit of approximately 120 officers and crew at any one time, that operated the ship as the weapon it was designed to be. The U.S.S. William H. Bates was the 'sharp point of the spear' throughout the Cold War, and the men that went to sea in her during those years knew that when they left port, they were at war. A silent, unobserved war, to be sure, but war none-the-less.
It was stressful enough that there were representatives of foreign governments that were ready and willing, as they were, to pull the trigger and end each other's existence, even during those 'non-combative' actions, but they were the lesser of the enemies the men of the U.S.S. William H. Bates faced. The sea itself was a harsh and unforgiving mistress, and the slightest misstep, miscalculation, or operational error would have ended their lives more rapidly than anything 'the enemy' could have done.
With that knowledge behind us, these awards and citations represent some of the most significant acknowledgement made by our nation of the expertise, diligence, courage, and devotion to duty of the men that made up the military unit called the U.S.S. William H. Bates.
We recognize that ribbons and medals are only faint praise compared to the admiration due these men for putting their lives on the line, hour by hour, day after day, month after month, for almost thirty years, committed to the defense of the people of the United States of America.
- Navy Expeditionary Service Medal
- 30 DEC 1978 through 30 JAN 1979
- 11 OCT 1982 through 26 NOV 1982
- 21 JAN 1985 through 15 MAR 1985
- Navy Meritorious Unit Commendation
- 04 AUG 1977 through 10 NOV 1977
- Navy "E" Ribbon
- 01 OCT 1978 through 30 SEP 1979
- Secretary of the Navy Letter of Commendation
- 11 SEP 1997 through 01 MAR 1998
- 01 MAR 1999 through 01 JUL 1999
Not all awards are listed - some awards were the result of classified missions whose details remain classified, consequently the medal 'does not exist'.
If you have information regarding awards or citations not listed, there is a thread in the Scuttlebutt Forum >> Ship >> Facts and Figures called "William H Bates Unit Awards/Citations" where you can contribute what information and sources you have.
Medal and Ribbon images courtesy of GruntsMilitary.com