Sen. King presents WWII veteran with medals
AUGUSTA — U.S. Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, presented World War II veteran Capt. Lester Slate of Exeter with several service medals, including the Distinguished Flying Cross, for his lifesaving act of heroism during the World War II.
“As a citizen of the United States and as a U.S. senator, I was honored to be with Capt. Slate as he received the recognition he so richly deserves for his service and sacrifice on behalf of our nation,” King said. “Indeed, nearly 70 years ago and in the face of great danger, Capt. Slate put his own life on the line to rescue a fellow service member stranded helplessly in enemy waters. For that incredible act of heroism, and for his extraordinary four decades of service, he deserves not only these commendations, but the unending gratitude of our nation as well. It was a privilege to join with his family and friends to present him his medals this morning, and I am grateful for all that he has done for our nation.”
Slate served in the U.S. Navy for 10 years from 1942 to 1952 and flew a total of 43 combat missions during World War II. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross and an Air Medal, among several other commendations, as a result of his heroism during a mission in which he and his crewmates rescued a downed Marine pilot from a life raft floating in hostile waters off the coast of Amami, Japan, in 1945. Following his tenure in the U.S. Navy, Capt. Slate also served in the U.S. Coast Guard for another 30 years from 1952- 1982.
In addition to the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Air Medal, Captain Slate was also presented with the World War II Victory Medal, the American Campaign Medal, the Asiatic Pacific Campaign Medal, the Navy Occupation Service Medal, a Discharge Button, and an Honorable Service Lapel Pin.
More than 30 of Captain Slate’s family members and friends attended the ceremony, which took place in Sen. King’s office in Augusta. Lt. Col. Peter Ogden, director of the Bureau of Maine Veterans Services, and Brigadier Gen. James D. Campbell, adjutant general of the Maine National Guard and commissioner of the Maine Department of Defense, Veterans and Emergency Management, were also present to honor Slate.