Monday, April 23, 2007

Michael J. Slater dies from 'wounds suffered when his vehicle rolled over during combat operations'

A Scott Depot man was killed in Iraq this weekend, less than a year after he joined the Army, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

Pfc. Michael Slater, 19, died Saturday in Taji, about 20 miles north of Baghdad, from injuries sustained after his vehicle overturned during combat operations.

He was assigned to the 407th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, N.C.

Slater graduated from Winfield High School in 2005 and joined the Army last July, becoming a heavy-vehicle driver. He had been planning to go into the military ever since he was a freshman, Winfield High Principal Bill Hughes said.

“He always wanted to be in the Army,” Hughes said. “From the ninth grade, he wanted to be in the Army. So it's kind of a sad irony ... that he accomplished his dream and it cost him his life.”

At about 130 pounds, Slater was “little in stature” but had a big heart, Hughes said.

Rachelle Atkins graduated with Slater and described him as energetic, funny and happy. In high school, they worked together at the Red Line Diner in St. Albans, where he was a busboy.

“He was really fast,” Atkins said. “I never had to worry about tables needing cleaning because he was always on top of things.”

At school, Slater often spoke of his plans to become a soldier. “He couldn't wait to go,” Atkins said.

Slater finished basic training at Fort Jackson, S.C., last October and motor transportation advanced training this January, according to a news release from the 82nd Airborne Division. After finishing his basic airborne course in February, Slater reported to his airborne division at Fort Bragg.

From the Charleston Gazette