Frank Slater had hardly lived.
The ship named for him experienced a
life span more than twice the two
score of the youthful native of
Kennamer's Cove, Alabama, who grew
up at Fyffe in a sharecropping
family -- a family of nine children.
A straight "A" scholar, he never had
the opportunity to go to high
school. This patriot saw his duty
and enlisted in the United States
Naval Reserve on Feb. 10, 1942.
After Boot Camp, Second Class Seaman
Slater was sent to Pearl Harbor
Receiving Station where he was
subsequently assigned to the USS SAN
FRANCISCO. That was April 12, 1942.
On November 12, 1942, Frank was
killed when a Japanese aircraft he
had shot down crashed into his gun
position during the battle at Savo
Island in the Solomons. He was
buried at sea.
Patriotism to him
was not just a word in a book. Frank
Slater regarded patriotism as an act
of unselfish devotion to country, of
self-sacrifice for an ideal. His
spirit lives on.
Family Christened Vessel
After several delays, the christening of
the USS FRANK O. SLATER DE-766 was
scheduled to be launched February 13,
1944, according to a report by John G.
Chambers in the Fort Payne, Alabama,
Times-Journal. Actual launch was delayed
to February 20th. Fourteen members of
the James Lafayette Slater family of
Fyffe made the two-day trip to Tampa,
Florida, for the christening and
launching ceremonies. Only Pfc Thomas
Slater, who was serving as an MP with
the army in North Africa, could not
J.D., the eldest of the Slater children,
and Elam, who served aboard his
brother's namesake, reconstructed their
"We went from Fyffe to Lookout Mountain
in Cartersville, Georgia, where the
three-car convoy headed south on U.S.
41. We spent the night in Valdosta,
Georgia, then headed out the next
morning early for our destination in
Tampa. We will always be indebted to
Ernest Lands, Jesse Whitmire and Bob
Kennamer, who furnished and drove their
"We were poor sharecroppers tending a
farm on 'halves'," recalled James David
Slater. "Only after Frank's death could
our parents afford to buy their own
homeplace, with the insurance money,"
asserted Elam and J. D. Frank would have
wanted it to be that way.
During an earlier visit to the Slater
home, Mrs. James Lafayette Slater, a
little bent but far from broken, led
reporter Chambers, to the family well.
She drew a fresh bucket of water and
offered the newspaper people a cool
drink from the dipper. Mrs. Slater, the
former Nora Morgan, epitomized the rural
Sand Mountain mother, and not to offer
her visitors a drink from the well on
such a hot day would be impolite.
A tall, thin, reserved lady, Mrs. Slater
pointed to the well, asserting, "Frank
helped to dig that well -- there is
where he wrote the date -- it was
written in wet cement. " In Frank's
handwriting was 'November 13, 1939' --
exactly three years before Mrs. Slater's
son was buried at sea
Elam Slater, Frank's Brother, was one of
the original crewmen on the USS Slater
named for his brother. Elam served on
the Slater the entire war and was a
member of the 40mm Gun Crew.
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