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Former Marine and Air America employee now deemed a hero

Posted: 5:21 PM, Jul 07, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-07 18:21:55-04

A Lafayette man has been deemed a hero by the family of a pilot who he saved in Louse in the 1970’s. During that time Allen Cates was worked for Air America, and although he appreciates the recognition he says he was simply just doing his job. 

"My father is fortunate enough to be rescued by an Air America pilot and a former marine. That hero is in the audience today," said Matthew Norton, the son of the former pilot. 

Cates has five rescues during his career, and he said he never imagined being honored for his work.

"His son (the pilot’s son)  thought it would be a great idea because his mother and father were visiting him for the ceremony if I could attend because I was in close proximity. They invited me to the ceremony, so I just expected to sit there and watch the ceremony I did not know they were going to acknowledge me which I thought was very nice of him," Cates said.

"My father and that pilot were reunited for the first time in close to 50 years last night. He said he was just doing his job and doesn’t need accolades or praise, but that job all those years ago created a ripple effect that you should be proud of," Norton said. 

"For him to have said what he said, I didn’t expect it and I was surprised and looked like a deer in the headlights. But that’s just the way he is and that’s the type of people we have representing us in America, and gosh I’m just really impressed with him," Cates said. 

The family even sent Cates home with some personalized memorabilia, once again thanking him for his service. 

"That’s euphoric, anytime that happens when you save somebody that’s good. But they were doing heroic things too, we were all in the war together," Cates said. 

Norton added, "thank you for what you did that day and thank you for all the Air America heroes who brought people like my father home."