Donald Paul Sloat
Medal of Honor Awarded 44 Years Later
Born to Evelyn (Turnbow) and Ezra Paul "Buddy" Sloat, Donald was raised in Coweta along with two brothers and two sisters. Evelyn Sloat with her children (clockwise), Bruce, Don, Bill, and Karen. Not shown is Kathleen (Kathy) Sue. Visit Department of Army Medal of Honor website for a slideshow of photos for Donald and family.
Donald graduated from Coweta High School in 1967. Donald was a lineman on the Coweta Tigers Football Team (high school senior photo).
After attending Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College in Miami, Oklahoma, SP4 Donald P. Sloat enlisted in the Army March 19, 1969 at the age of 20, with another hometown friend . His mother said he was bound and determined to join because his friends had done so.
Upon completion of his initial training at Fort Polk, Louisiana, he was sent to Vietnam in September 1969. Donald's mother took him to the airport in Tulsa but he did not want his mother to go inside with him because he did not want to see her cry any more. Her tears would again flow again a short 3 months later, when the Army showed up on her doorstep to inform her that Donald had been killed in action.
He was killed a month before his 21st birthday. DoD records back then indicated he was "killed while on a combat operation when a booby trap detonated." No detail beyond that was given to his mother at the time. Donald's death was the second of three within a month. Coweta had already faced the death of Donald's friend and fellow soldier, Edgar Pulliam, Jr killed the week before. Again the shock and sadness hit the area when another Cowetan solder, Jimmy L. Campbell was killed in action on February 11, 1970.
The town had earlier experienced the death of 5 other men from 1967 to 1970. The 8 men from Coweta area who lost their youth in Southeast Asia were:
A year after Donald's death, Evelyn Sloat exchanged letters with a soldier who was present when her son died, and she was told that he had stepped on a land mine.
So for nearly four decades, she lived with that simple bit of information about her son's death, never questioning it. All that changed when a nephew in California read an online account of how Don Sloat died. His death came about as a result of bravery that might have saved others' lives. According to recently released military records, Don Sloat was on patrol when he tried to toss a live, booby-trapped enemy grenade away from his platoon. Three nearby soldiers were wounded by shrapnel, but the carnage could have been far worse.
Donald was never decorated for the act of courage that claimed his life and Evelyn Sloat wanted to change that fact. In 2010, she learned that her son's platoon leader was going to recommend him for the Medal of Honor. Donald's mother also had received the forms to apply for a Medal of Honor, but faced an uphill struggle. The hitch was that she needed to find an officer in command at the time of her son's death who would verify that he died heroically. She began the process. Evelyn Sloat said she was "bound and determined to get that medal for Don. He was never recognized for what he did."
In October 2013, the final hurdle was reached, but it was unknown to Evelyn Sloat, as she passed away on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2011 (Read about her passing here).
The final hurdle was for Congress to suspend the rules and pass the bill (H.R. 3304) to authorize and request the President to award the Medal of Honor, under Section 2 (HR 3304). It read in part: "AUTHORIZATION AND REQUEST FOR AWARD OF MEDAL OF HONOR TO DONALD P. SLOAT FOR ACTS OF VALOR DURING THE VIETNAM CONFLICT. (a) Authorization.-- Notwithstanding the time limitations specified in section 3744 of title 10, United States Code, or any other time limitation with respect to the awarding of certain medals to persons who served in the Armed Forces, the President is authorized and requested to award the Medal of Honor under section 3741 of such title to Donald P. Sloat of the United States Army for the acts of valor during the Vietnam Conflict described in subsection (b). (b) Acts of Valor Described." The Senate also authorized approval and the bill was passed and sent to the President who signed the bill in August, to be awarded on September 15.
With the award of the Medal of Honor on September 15, 2014, Sloat's awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal with "V" Device, the Army Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the Vietnam Service Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, the Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal with "60" Device, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross with Palm Device, the Republic of Vietnam Gallantry Cross Unit Citation with Palm Device, the Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Badge with Rifle Bar, Sharpshooter Badge with Machinegun Bar, and Marksman Badge with Auto Rifle Bar.
SP4 Donald Paul Sloat was predeceased by his father, who was born in Coweta, Oklahoma, 24 Mar 1926, a Navy Veteran of World War II, and passed away on 24 Mar 1982 in Sand Springs, where he is buried in Woodland Memorial Park Cemetery. He was also predeceased by his brother Bruce Arnold Sloat (1950-1968). Following his death in 1970, Donald's brother Brian Ronald Sloat (1961-2000) also passed away.
SP4 Sloat was also survived by his maternal grandparents. His grandfather was a veteran of World War I; and both Rose Etta (1902-1994) and Martin Luther Turnbow (1892-1994) are buried in Vernon Cemetery, Coweta along with Donald and his mother Evelyn (Turnbow) Sloat (1927-2011)
SP4 Sloat's father and maternal grandfather markers
Today SP4 Donald Paul Sloat is survived by his older brother Dr. William (Bill) Gene Sloat, and younger sisters, Karen McCaslin, and Kathy Sloat. Dr Sloat accepted his brother's Medal of Honor at a White House on September 15, 2014.
- - The Virtual Wall, November 3, 2014
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