SSgt Billie W. Slayton
The Vietnam War
September 24, 1968
CITATION TO ACCOMPANY THE AWARD OF THE SILVER STAR
THE VIETNAM WAR - SOUTHEAST ASIA - THE REPUBLIC OF VIETNAM
STAFF SERGEANT BILLIE W. SLAYTON
Staff Sergeant Billie W. Slayton distinguished himself by gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force at Katum Special Forces Camp, Republic of Vietnam on 24 September 1968.
On that date, Sergeant Slayton repeatedly exposed himself to intense and accurately directed hostile ground fire while controlling incoming resupply aircraft bringing vital munitions and supplies to the beleaguered camp.
Sergeant Slayton assisted in derigging the dropped loads and removing them to the security of the camp. Sergeant Slayton later that day manned a machine gun position that saw an intense ground probe thwarted within 70 yards of his position.
By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Sergeant Slayton has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
Excerpt from “Brothers in Berets”:
On the night of 23–24 September 1968, a determined enemy force made repeated attempts to overrun the camp at Katum. After the at- tacks, Slayton recalled that American intelligence personnel surmised it was “the graduation for the infantry class,” because so many brand-new AK-47s littered the area. Slayton had never experienced the effectiveness of the AC-130 Specter gunship, but that night “they put their power where they needed to” to save their comrades on the ground. At one point, Slayton manned an M-60 machine gun dur- ing a probe that brought the enemy within 70 yards of his position. The next morning, Slayton and Elizondo cleared the runway of unexploded ordnance prior to coordinating the day’s resupply airdrops. Elizondo recalled pulling bombs out of the ground, a hazardous undertaking. They also noticed a number of enemy prisoners of war (POW), several horribly wounded and missing arms or legs, the grim result of the previous night’s unrelenting attacks. Elizondo offered one a cigarette, which the wounded man refused with disdain.
Positioned near the runway, the combat controllers relied on their portable radio to maintain communications with aircraft in the vicinity. There, they were exposed, as Slayton’s Silver Star citation read, to “hostile ground fire while controlling incoming resupply aircraft bringing vital munitions and supplies to the beleaguered camp.”
Slayton and Elizondo accounted for 2 of the 22 Silver Stars earned by combat controllers during the Southeast Asia conflict.