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Lt. Col. Joseph Jones Yeats, Jr.

July 23, 1927 July 28, 2012
Lt. Col. Joseph Jones Yeats, Jr.
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Obituary for Lt. Col. Joseph Jones Yeats, Jr.

Lt. Col. Joseph Jones Yeats, Jr., died July 28, 2012 at Sunrise Senior Living in Troy. He was 85 years old. Joe was born July 23, 1927 in Portland, Oregon, son of Lt. Col. Joseph Jones Yeats, Sr. and Jane Elizabeth Luce Yeats. As an Army brat his family moved frequently in the United States and overseas. He graduated Cum Laude from Shattuck School, Faribault, Minnesota in 1944.

He attended the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, Class of 1949, and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant of Cavalry and posted to the 2nd and the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiments in West Germany from 1950-1954. He married Betty Gene O�Brien of Dunn, North Carolina in 1954. They were married fifty-three years.

In 1962, Joe was sent to South Vietnam where he was the Armor Advisor at Military Assistance Command � Vietnam, Military Assistance Advisory Group, in Saigon. Upon returning from Vietnam, the Army sent him to Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island in 1964.

From 1965-1968 Joe served in West Germany at Headquarters, Central Army Group and later as Commanding Officer, 3rd Squadron, 12th Cavalry, Armstrong Barracks, B�dingen, West Germany.

Joe�s last assignment in the Army was in the Office of the Chief, Research and Development at the Pentagon from 1968-1971. He worked on the joint US-West German new main battle tank program, MBT-70, and the U.S. follow-on, the XM803. He retired from the Army in 1971 after 22 years of service and was awarded the Legion of Merit.

He was hired by Dr. Philip W. Lett of Chrysler Defense (later General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS)) and led the engineering effort for Chrysler�s new tank design which was competing with one being developed by General Motors. The Chrysler design won and production commenced at the Lima Army Tank Plant in 1979 with the first production M1 Abrams tank delivered to the Army in 1980. The M1 Abrams design is the basis for all subsequent U.S. Army main battle tanks to the present day. During his career with Chrysler Defense/GDLS Joe was called on to brief President Carter and later presidential candidate Michael Dukakis on the tank program.

Joe and Betty traveled widely in Europe as well as East Asia and the Middle East. Joe enjoyed singing and was an active member of the Troy Community Chorus in the 1980s and early 1990s. He volunteered for many years at the Village Players of Birmingham where he specialized in set construction and was an associate of the American Wing of the Detroit Institute of Arts.

He is survived by his loving children, James McGuire (Elizabeth) Yeats, Katharine Luce Yeats, and William Bleecker (Lois) Yeats; granddaughter, Erin Mercer Yeats. Joe is also survived by his sister, Elizabeth Strother Yeats Stepanovich and brothers, Christopher Scott Yeats and Philip Lansdale Yeats. He is preceded in death by his beloved wife, Betty Gene Yeats.

A memorial gathering will be held at Lynch & Sons Funeral Home, 1368 N. Crooks Rd., (between 14-15 Mile Rds.) Wednesday 3-8pm. Memorial service at Christ Church Cranbrook, 470 Church Road, Bloomfield Hills, Thursday 2pm. Interment with military honors in Arlington National Cemetery.

Memorial contributions may be made to the Detroit Institute of Arts - American Wing, 5200 Woodward Ave.
Detroit, MI 48202.


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