Karim Slate: Vietnam Veteran
As a senior in Tri Valley High School in Alaska, Karim tested and pre-qualified for Warrant Officer Flight Training in 1970. As a new U.S. Army recruit after graduation, Karim was sent to Fort Polk Louisiana for basic training. His next stop after 12 weeks of basic training was Fort Wolters, Texas for primary flight training. Out of 219 pilot candidates, Karim was included in the 76 that passed and moved on to Fort Rucker Alabama for advanced training including instrument and tactical skills. Having earned his wings and now a Warrant Officer 1, Karim was assigned to Cobra Gunship Transition at Fort Hunter-Stewart.
Karim’s stateside training complete, he was deployed to Vietnam and assigned to the 1st Air Cavalry, 3rd Brigade, 229th Battalion, B company as a troop ship better known as a “Slick” to fellow soldiers. “Slick” was a term of respect and the label was one of admiration by his Comrades in Arms. A Slicks job description was primarily to insert and extract soldiers into operational areas. The job entailed the mobile strategy of “ Find, Fix, and Attack” the enemy by tactically dropping off troops into key locations and retrieving the troops at completion of the contact .
After 5 months as a “Slick” Karim was assigned to The “Nighthawk” or “FireFly System. The Nighthawk operation was designed to interrupt enemy movement and gather intelligence at night. The job was considered risky due to the illumination of the aircraft as it searched for enemy operations and was an easy target for hostile fire.
In April of 1972 the city of An Loc was invaded by 3 Divisions or 30,000 North Vietnamese Army regulars along with Heavy Armor, Anti Aircraft, and Artillery. The city was surrounded by enemy troops with no way to access the city for defense except by helicopter support. Karim returned to his “Slick” duties as he was assigned to insert ARVN( Army of the Republic of Vietnam) troops into the city to hold off the impending take over . Karim flew his troop ladened Huey on 12-15 sorties a day for 2 weeks at which time the enemy was routed. The sorties after the decimation of the enemy began to decline and Karim was again assigned to Night Hawk duty until September of 1972 at which time his tour had been completed. He rotated into Fort Lewis, Washington as a Cobra Attack helicopter in the 9th Division. After 6 months at Fort Lewis, Karims military service had wound down and had come to a close. Warrant Officer 2 Karim Slate made his transition into civilian life again in March of 1973.
Karim had 1042 flight hours in Vietnam and was recognized for his service as follows:
Vietnam Service Ribbon with 3 stars
National Defense Medal
41 Air Medals
The Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with the Bronze Star
The Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with the Gold Palm
The Presidential Unit Citation for the Battle of An Loc
The Distinguished Flying Cross for actions during the Battle of An Loc
Submitted by Barbara W - So Cal QOV