Saturday, July 07, 2012

TFH 7/7: Captain Albert C. Slater, Jr., USMC

Operation Buffalo was a major United States Marine Corps action that took place in early July, 1967 south of the Vietnam demilitarized zone (DMZ). The battle began with costly casualties to the 1st Battalion, 9th Marine Regiment, then a component of the 3rd Marine Division.

The battalion was caught in an ambush on July 2nd that decimated 1/9's Companies A and B. Out of about 400 Marines, 84 were killed, 190 wounded, and nine listed as MIA. Company B's command group was completely wiped out by an artillery shell.

Throughout the fight the commander of Company A, Captain Albert C. Slater, Jr. (born February 1, 1939), was steadfast in his courage and leadership and kept his Marines in the battle against a much larger enemy force. He was decorated with the Navy Cross for his actions.

From Military Times' Hall of Valor:

The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Navy Cross to Captain Albert C. Slater, Jr. (MCSN: 0-84435), United States Marine Corps, for extraordinary heroism as Commanding Officer, Company A, First Battalion, Ninth Marines, THIRD Marine Division (Reinforced), Fleet Marine Force, during Operation BUFFALO in the Republic of Vietnam on 6 - 7 July 1967. In command of both Companies A and C, Captain Slater moved his forces into a strategic position north of Con Thien. Shortly before dark, the companies came under extremely heavy barrages of enemy artillery and mortars. During the barrages, Captain Slater fearlessly maneuvered his command into a perimeter where it could counter the attack he was certain would come. With full knowledge of the hazards involved, he ignored the heavy barrages of enemy artillery and personally checked each position to insure that they were secure. When the attack came, by an estimated two battalions of the North Vietnamese Army, Captain Slater unhesitatingly moved to an exposed position where he could properly control the situation. He repeatedly exposed himself to the withering enemy fire in order to better observe the air and artillery support he coordinated for his now surrounded command. For six hours, Captain Slater, with complete disregard for his own personal safety and with full composure and presence of mind, moved from one exposed position to another, giving encouragement and directing the men of his command. He aggressively employed all available fire and personally led his men in hand-to-hand combat through extremely dense underbrush which reduced the action to a man-to-man struggle. Throughout the entire night, Captain Slater, although constantly exposed to enemy artillery, mortars, grenades, and small-arms fire, was always at a strategic point of contact directing his unit and encouraging his men. By his courage, tenacity, and outstanding leadership, Captain Slater brought stability to an otherwise untenable situation, which resulted in at least two hundred North Vietnamese regulars killed with small losses to his command. Captain Slater's daring actions and loyal devotion to duty in the face of great personal risk reflected great credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

I believe Albert C. Slater, Jr. to still be living. I wasn't able to find any information about his later service or life.

1st Battalion, 9th Marines (official link, but empty) was deactivated as part of the post-Cold War draw-down of the US military in 1994. The battalion was reactivated in April 2007 and is currently attached to the 8th Marine Regiment and the 2nd Marine Division. Their home station is Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.


  1. Anonymous2:32 PM

    I worked for LtCol. Slater in 1981 at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, CA. While LtCol. Slater was, at that time, the Deputy Assistant Chief of Staff for Recruiting, he was later given command of one of the recruit training battalions.

    I recall walking behind his battalion HQ one day and seeing him working out on the pull-up bar in his, "Summer Service Charlies" uniform.

    I recall LtCol. Slater to be a kind and caring officer. It was a pleasure to serve under him.

  2. Anonymous6:28 PM

    I worked with, then Captain Slater in 1970 - 1972 at the Naval Amphibious School, Coronado, in the Supporting Arms Department. He was an instructor in call for fire procedures in Naval gunfire and tactical air support. He was an impressive Marine in all his ways.



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