Paul L. Bates, 86, the white colonel who refused to court-martial Jackie Robinson and who commanded the first black tank battalion to fight in World War II, died Feb. 21 of cancer in Dunedin, Fla. His 761st Tank Battalion entered combat in November 1944 as part of Gen. George S. Patton's 3rd Army and fought for 183 consecutive days, veteran David Williams wrote in his memoirs, "Hit Hard." The unit captured, destroyed or liberated more than 30 major towns, 34 tanks and four airfields. Later, at Fort Hood, Texas, Colonel Bates refused to court-martial Robinson after the future baseball star refused to move to the back of a bus. In 1978, President Jimmy Carter awarded the 761st a Presidential Unit Citation.
James R. Cowan, 78, a physician who was President Gerald R. Ford's assistant secretary of defense for health and environmental services, died Feb. 16 in Sarasota, Fla.