by Deborah B.
My dad accomplished many things in his 91 years. He was an Eagle Scout, enrolled in Civilian Pilot Training in high school and college, played for the Detroit Red Wings professional hockey team and was an executive at BBDO, as one of the original “Mad Men.” But he was most proud of his role as husband, father and Naval Aviator. Dad flew the Martin PBM Mariner, the flying boat of World War II.
Dad enlisted after junior college. He had as many flying hours as his instructors at New Orleans and Pensacola, and finished two-and-a-half months ahead of the rest of his Pensacola class. He was assigned to Patrol Bombing 208 on convoy and anti-submarine duty. Then Dad spent four years based in the Pacific. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for a dumbo rescue and eight Air Medals for service in war areas, including Kwajalein, Eniwetok, Saipan, Iwo Jima and Okinawa.
Decades later, Dad rarely spoke of the war, but he speak of his love of the PBM. He once shared, “The PBM was a wonderfully rugged aircraft because we operated from extremely rough water, including the open sea."
In 2010, Dad was escorted to Washington, D.C. by the Volusia Honor Air. At long last, he was able to visit the World War II Memorial. He was delighted his service was remembered.
He was humble, so typical of the Greatest Generation. It was always about “us” with my dad. He never spoke about his medals and passed away with those secrets. But in my heart I know a hero is in heaven.
Photo 1: Clark S. Slayman, USN
Photo 2: LT Slayman and PBM Crew (back row, fifth from left)