2nd Lt. Paul B. (Pete) Slaten

KIA July 6, 1943


Description: Description: 12th_Air_force   Description: Description: 97th Bomb Group_Patch  Description: Description: 414th_patch2

           12th AF                          97th BG                       414th BS


Material submitted by his great-nephew

Guy W. York []

(Material from Guy’s 2nd cousin John Bailey)


Site edited and maintained by Doug Cook

Contacts from 97th BG and 414th Squadron Welcome!

Last Update August 3, 2012


Paul B. (Pete) Slaten Biography

From home town newspaper in Ft. Stockton Texas




414th Bomb Squadron B-17 [#25463]  in flight

(Slaten photo)


414th Bomb Squadron B-17 in flight

(Wm. Ross photo)



Chateudun Du Rhummel Airbase, Algeria Misson to bomb the Gerbini Aerodrome on Sicily.

This would have been Slaten’s 6th combat mission.


[ Editorial comment:  The diary comment above implies that the mission of the day was optional- it was not.  In fact the wheels were in motion for a major Allied invasion of Italy.  The 97th BG had a major strategic role to hit Axis defenses before the invasion. The Allied invasion of Sicily, codenamed Operation Husky, was a major World War II campaign, in which the Allies took Sicily from the Axis (Italy and Nazi Germany). It was a large scale amphibious and airborne operation, followed by six weeks of land combat. It launched the Italian Campaign.Husky began on the night of 9–10 July 1943, and ended 17 August. Strategically, Husky achieved the goals set out for it by Allied planners. The Allies drove Axis air, land and naval forces from the island; the Mediterranean's sea lanes were opened and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini was toppled from power. It opened the way to the Allied invasion of Italy.

 Major General Jimmy Doolittle was Commanding General of the Twelfth Air Force in North Africa. Doolittle earned fame as the commander of the first bombing (B-25 bombers from the carrier Hornet) raid on Japan shortly after Pearl Harbor. He was promoted to Major General (Two Star) in November 1942, and in March 1943 became Commanding General of the Northwest African Strategic Air Forces, a unified command of U.S. Army Air Force and Royal Air Force units.  Gen. Doolittle took command of the Fifteenth Air Force in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations in November 1943 from January 1944 to September 1945.]



(Slaten’s plane would have been on this mission.  This would have been his 6th combat mission.)

Note bombs bursting on Catania Fontanarossa- Gerbini is 10 miles further (Wm. Ross photo)


The credit for all the information on my Great Uncle Pete is mostly due to my 2nd Cousin John Bailey. Pete died in ‘43. I was born in 49 but John grew up with the stories about Uncle Pete and knew him as a small child. John tells me about building wooden bombers with marbles as bombs that flew on a string across the chicken pin. A string attached to the plane activated the bomb release and the chickens caught hell. John has done a great job over the years accumulating and organizing Uncle Pete's story. John passed the gauntlet on to me a few years ago and I hope to do my share to keep Pete's memory alive along with the many other young me that left homes, school, jobs and the farm to go and save the world.


Guy W. York

Anchorage, Alaska





B-17F SN 42-30121  Official accident report MACR 16152 mistakenly has Sgt. Gold as pilot.  (The rank of 2nd Lt was earned with pilot’s wings in training).



(via John Bailey)



Pete Slaten ferried his B-17 from Florida to South America (note the bank note from Guyana).  

They flew from Natal, Brazil to Dakar, Senegal in Africa and then on to Morocco and Algeria.




Paul B. (Pete) Slaten Biography

From home town newspaper in Ft. Stockton Texas


Antics before shipping overseas


“Here is some info about a training accident of some other boys but the middle part is all "Uncle Pete". You see he had a girlfriend that worked in the phone company in Ft. Stockton...  [The] Pyote training base as only about 80 miles North...Stories go that Pete would bring that B-17 down main street over on one wing and buzz the phone company. When he left for Florida and Mom tells me that his crew dropped a crate of his personal stuff out of the B-17 right onto the farm...”  Guy