A Fog, a War and a Candidate

The Navajo County Republican Party has issued a letter asking Steve Slaton, a candidate for Legislative District 7, to withdraw from the race after several news stories questioning Slaton’s military service in Vietnam have come to light.

Slaton owns the Trumped Store in Show Low and is an Army veteran who served in Vietnam, Korea and the U.S.

The letter states, “(I)n the course of your campaign, you have provided an altered DD-214 claiming combat veteran status and showing qualifications and awards which you have not earned. That unfortunately has cast a shadow of dishonesty on your campaign, and by extension, on the Republican Party organizations in LD-7 … we respectfully request, for the good of the Republican Party, the conservative movement in general, military service members, and veterans that you withdraw from the Republican Primary race for Representative of Legislative District 7.”

The matter of whether Slaton has been using “an altered DD-214” remains unresolved, because there is a question as to how his records may have been obtained by third parties.

In a recent article in the Arizona Republic, the author confirmed Slaton’s military record, writing, “Records published on the websites MilitaryPhonies.com and ValorGuardians.com … show Slaton left reserve duty in 1979. He served active duty as a helicopter repairman from 1973-76.”

The confusion surrounding Slaton’s Vietnam Service Medal may appear valid since the Vietnam War officially ended on March 29, 1973, three months before Slaton enlisted on June 29, 1973, according to his DD-214. However, a deeper look into the history of the conflict between North and South Vietnam reveals that while most of the U.S. troops were evacuated, others were left behind to lend support to the South Vietnamese Army. Stationed at Marble Mountain Air Field, Slaton said he was part of the helicopter crews during those final days of the war, that lasted from Mar. 30, 1973, until the fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975.

Slaton’s account of his military service

In response to an email inquiry from the Independent about his Vietnam experience, Slaton wrote, “I flew from Korea to Vietnam, and the U.S. did not fully pull out until 1975. The Paris peace talks were supposed to bring peace, and they didn’t. So they knee-jerk reacted and pulled me and 20-30 other Cobra helicopter crews from Korea to Vietnam to provide support for our allies during the fighting. We were closer than any of the stateside units, which is why we were chosen. We loaded our Cobras on C-5 Galaxies out of Pusan and flew them to Vietnam. I was stationed at Marble Mountain after it had already been handed back to the Vietnamese. This is reflected on my original DD214 that was signed by my commander upon leaving the military at Fort Hood, Texas. I have an honorable discharge.”

Slaton also noted, “I was given a VSM award because I served in Vietnam in 1974 in combat. The standard was that your outgoing commander awarded it to you and put it on your DD214 when you got out because of your service in Vietnam.” This explains the designation of “Nixon Vietnamese 1974” on his form.

Within that designation, Slaton met the requirement of being attached to or regularly served for one or more days with an organization participating in or directly supporting military operations. He also met the requirement of actually participating as a crewmember in one or more aerial flights into the airspace above Vietnam and contiguous waters directly supporting military operations. Only one of these is required to receive the VSM.

As a soldier involved in the mop-up stages of the war, after the U.S. withdrew the troops in total defeat on March 28, 1973, Slaton said, “The only reason they say those dates is because those were the only official times they were publicly going to allow. There were a lot of operations still going on that weren’t publicized.”

Questions about DD-214 copies

Slaton has always been open with his DD-214 for the public to view, and while other copies of his DD-214 have seemingly surfaced, it raises a question about how they were obtained.

According to DD214.com, “You must be the service member or the service member’s next of kin” to apply for a DD-214. The site also notes that a replacement DD-214 is not a new document; it is simply a copy of the original document.

The National Archives in St. Louis, Missouri, requires that the service member give written permission to obtain his or her records from them. Within that request, the service member’s name, dates of service, date of birth, and Social Security number are required.

Slaton said that he has never given out that permission, saying, “Anyone who does obtain my DD-214 is in violation of the 1974 Privacy Act.”

While websites such as Guardians of the Green Beret seem to assert that they do have a copy of Slaton’s DD-214, there is no explanation of who obtained it on their behalf, or how it was obtained; and no high-resolution version of any other DD-214 has surfaced.

Continue Reading: https://www.wmicentral.com/news/a-fog-a-war-and-a-candidate/article_e371c690-33d4-11ef-9b17-cb5f3dde4016.html

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