Kathryn “Kat” Gates-Skipper - Republican Club of Lakeland President


Kathryn “Kat” Gates-Skipper, U. S. Marine Corps Veteran
Email: [email protected]

Kathryn “Kat” Gates-Skipper served 20 years in the U.S. Marine Corps and Reserves.  As in the hymn of the Marine Corps, she was born on the shores of Tripoli where she was adopted by an Air Force Colonel and his wife at Wheelus Air Base in Tripoli, Libya, N. Africa and became a Naturalized Citizen of the United States at 3 years old.

As things were changing for Women in the Military in the Mid 1970s, Kat helped paved the way for Women, being among the first Woman Marine (WM) to stay overnight in the field for combat training, and the first to stay aboard a war ship overnight in the 1980’s (Navy’s USS Tortuga LSD-46). She was deployed in 1991 for Operations Desert Shield/Desert Storm and was the First enlisted Woman Marine in Combat Operations, and was in charge of the Personal Effects of the casualties for the Marine Corps.

Some of Kat’s Service recognitions include: USMC League Distinguished Service Award, Sel USMC Reserve Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Meritorious Unit Citation, Good Conduct Medal, Army, Air Force & Marine Corps Letters of Appreciation, SW Asia Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Expert Marksman Badge, Honorable Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, Overseas Service Medal, Saudi Lib of Kuwait Medal, Kuwait Lib of Kuwait Medal, Cold War Victory Medal, State of Florida Governor’s Veteran Award (2014), and American Legion Post #71 Veteran of the Year Award (2017).

Her family has served in all, but one, Branches of the Military and all Wars, Past and Present. Her Husband Charles, saw combat in the historic Army’s 1st Cavalry Division at the Battle of Hue City; and in the relief force for the siege at Khe Sanh, during the 1968 Tet Offensive in Vietnam. Her middle Son, Greg, joined the Navy after the 9/11 attacks, serving aboard the USS Kitty Hawk. Her youngest Son, Lyle, served in the Air Force for 7 years. (She hopes one of her Grandsons will join the Coast Guard to round the Family out-serving in ALL Branches then.)

Kat’s passion for Veteran’s Advocacy and Grass Roots political action was formalized in the summer of 2012 when she volunteered with Vets for Freedom, later named Concerned Veterans for America (CVA).  For her efforts, she was hired as the Central Florida Field Director, serving until Aug 2015.

Her experience contributed to CVA’s “August 20th Delivery Day” in 2013, when she went to the White House to help deliver the Petition of 27,000 Signatures, calling on President Obama to bring reform to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.  It was a national effort to end the embarrassing backlog of Veterans Disability and Compensation Claims. It was deeply personal for Kat owing to her Husband, Charles, whose pending VA claim arising from wounds sustained in Vietnam, lasted almost 8 years.

In Nov 2013, Kat and her husband were featured in a 2-minute nationwide public service announcement comparing the Affordable Care Act (AKA: Obama Care) with the troubled VA Medical system drawing a comparison to nationalized health care.

Owing to her distinction, in April 2014, she was hand selected for the “Vets on the Hill-Boots on the Ground,” legislative initiative meetings with Congressional Representatives & Senators.  Those meetings included House VA Affairs Chairman Jeff Miller and the Speaker of the House-John Boehner, advocating for the passage of the VA Accountability Act. The Act was subsequently passed and signed by President Obama in Aug 2014; now called The VA Accountability Act of 2014.

In late 2015, Kat’s experience in retail politics made drew the attention of the Trump for President Campaign where she was asked to serve as the Florida Director of the Florida Veterans for Trump.  Veterans came out 2 to 1 and voted in the 2016 Presidential Election, due to her Team’s efforts. She was also one of Florida’s 29 Electors. Kat continues to serve in an advisory and voter mobilization capacity drawing on an array of grassroots contacts directed to retail politics across Florida, and is on the 2020 TRUMP-PENCE Victory Finance Committee.  In 2018, she ran for Polk County Commission, which she had the lowest dollar spent per vote ever in the county, and came out with almost 40 % of the votes. She also served on the Veterans Coalition for Rick Scott for Senate, and the Deputy Director of Veterans Coalition of Ron DeSantis for Florida Governor.

Kat has appeared on several Media outlets: Fox News Network, NRA TV, Tampa TV Stations WFLA, WTSP, & BayNews 9; Orlando TV Stations WESH-2 & FNN-Florida News Network; WIND-FM Radio in Gainesville, Alice Stewart Radio Show 96.5 in Central Arkansas, The Captain’s AMERICA “Third Watch” Radio Show in Tampa and Spotlight Radio and WRNW1-Women’s Network.  She’s been featured in print publications, such as USA Today, Washington Post, Der Spiegel German Magazine, Tampa Tribune, Huffington Post, Palm Beach Post, Lakeland Ledger, Winter Haven News Chief and Lake Wales News. Kat was the Grand Marshall in her home town, in the Annual Lake Wales Mardi Gras Parade, in 2016.

She is a life member of The American Legion, VFW, Marine Corps League, and Vietnam and All Veterans of Brevard. A member of The Woman Marines Association, Military Women Across the Nation, The Enlisted Association, DAV Auxiliary, Purple Heart Ladies Auxiliary, Marine Corps Heritage Foundation, Marine Corps Association, The Army’s 5th/7th Association and life member of the Florida Chapter of the Army’s 1st Cav Division; National Rifle Association, Smithsonian National Air & Space Society, Florida & Polk County Cattlemen’s Association and Woman’s Cattleman Association, Nat’l. Federation of Republican Women, Polk County Republican Executive Committee, Bok Tower Gardens, Lake Wales Chamber of Commerce, and sponsoring member of the USO & Vietnam Veterans Memorial.  She has been selected for induction into the 2020 Florida Veteran’s Hall of Fame.

Kat owns an Airport Transportation Company, which has been in business for over 25 years. She is an active Board Member at the Orlando VA Hospital, Gov. DeSantis “Forward March” Veterans Initiative Board, President of the Lakeland Republican Club and President of the Veterans Republican Club of Polk County (1st one in Polk County and the entire state of Florida) and a 2019 graduate of the Lake Wales Leadership Class #23. She has 4 children, 4 grandchildren, and lives with her Husband, Charles, along with their 2 Dogs, 3 Horses, 14 Chickens, and lots of Cows on their Cattle Ranch in Lake Wales, FL.