Valley Marine Returns Home

July 22, 2008 8:59:15 PM PDT
The oldest captain in the United States Marine Corps just finished a tour in Iraq.It was quite an experience to sit down with this marine and his family in Fresno to hear their story of shared sacrifice.

Captain Terry Slatic joined the Marine Corps more than twenty years ago and became an officer trained in light armored reconnaissance. He described his thoughts about older Marines back then: "We had a 35 year old gunny sergeant at the time and I remember thinking: what kind of guy wants to do this when he's 35 years old?"

With the country at peace his skills weren't needed. He left the service to build a life with his wife, Kim. But in 2006, the Marine Corps was looking for those skills and at the age of 46 he was back in the uniform - the oldest captain serving the Corps training troops in a Utah reserve unit.

"Terry Slatic - U.S. marine corps: The unit in Utah is the exact same job, the exact same type of unit that I was in my last two years of active duty back in the day."

It was called up last year bound for Iraq must to Kim Slatic's dismay: "There were definitely some tears and I said: but you said they wouldn't send you, you're too old. And he said: I guess I fooled them."

Terry Slatic told us: "I'd gotten the leadership and my peers as well as the young people over the fact that i was older than their fathers."

Between training a new generation of Marines and the tour in Iraq, Slatic was gone from his job and home in Fresno for more than a year.

He planned and regularly joined the platoons on patrol. The old guy could keep up with the youngsters on the battlefield and in the gym.

Kim, meantime, was serving too, helping the families and wives left behind in Utah by phone and email while taking care of her own children.

Terry calls her his Zenia Warrior Princess: "She took care of everything." Kim says: "That's our job back here to take care of them so they didn't make their marines worry."

Her husband returned in mid May a little more than two months ago. And word has just come that the oldest U.S. Marine Captain is to be promoted to Major.

He'll be taking over the command of the unit that brought home every marine of every age -- safe and sound: "I wanted to take care of the young men and my whole mission was accomplished when we brought 'em all home."

Perhaps wisdom and age is a virtue after all.
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