April 16, 2009
Terry Slatic played football at CSU and later had the distinction of being the oldest Captain on active duty in the United States Marine Corps. Therein lies a story.
Terry went to high school in both Brandon, Florida and Fullerton, California. During his two years at Brandon High School, he played football and also wrestled on a team that was the state's wrestling powerhouse. He became a district wrestling champion before moving to California. CSU recruited him out of Troy High School in Fullerton as an offensive lineman.
He was on the football team at CSU from 1978-1982. He red shirted the first year and played the next four years. In 1982 he was named an honorable mention All Western Athletic Conference offensive lineman. He graduated in August 1983 with a degree in economics.
During his years at CSU, Terry decided that he wanted to serve his country as a member of the Armed Forces. So, after graduation he explored the possibility of becoming either a Navy Seal or a United States Marine. In October 1983, terrorists bombed the Marine Corps barracks in Beirut, Lebanon killing over 241 marines. At that point, he chose the Marine Corps and the Corps chose him. He entered Officer Candidate School (OCS), was commissioned in 1984 and served as an infantry officer until 1988 when he left active duty to build a life in the civilian world with his wife, Kim, who Terry had met while they were students at CSU.
As time passed and the U.S. became more deeply involved in Iraq, Slatic again felt compelled to serve his country and the Corps. In January 2006, he requested and was accepted for reappointment in the Marine Corps at his former rank of Captain. At age 46, 18 years after he previously exited the Armed Forces, Terry Slatic became the oldest Captain (gray hair and all) serving in the Marine Corps Reserves. Many of those with whom Terry had attended OCS had already retired from the Marines as Lt. Colonels with 20 years of service. The Corps placed Terry on active duty in June 2007 and sent him to Fallujah, Iraq, in September 2007 as second in command of a light armored reconnaissance company, the last job Terry held while on active duty "back in the day". During the time he was in Iraq, he described some of his experiences via email exchanges with former CSU teammate Tom Ehlers, Director of Football Operations at CSU. Suffice to say, he did what Marines always do in combat. He led from the front and used his training to fight for the cause, his fellow marines, and himself. He proved he could keep up with the youngsters on the battlefield and in the gym.
Kim, meantime, was serving, too, by helping the wives and families left behind while taking care of their four children. Among other things, Kim wrote the following regarding Terry's decision to reenter the Marine Corps: "...When I asked my husband why he felt the need to do this, having already served, having young children at home, and frankly, being 47 years old, he replied that in every war our great country has fought, there have been men serving who met all those criteria. The burden of this war, he said, was being carried by those in their teens and early 20's and if he could carry a pack just a little while longer and maybe help some of these patriots come home with all the same parts they left with, then shame on him for not stepping up..." Terry returned home to his family in 2008.
People have often compared the experience of being a college athlete to that of a soldier in battle. Of course, the stakes are radically different, but both give 110% to achieve victory and the memories stay with them forever. They and their teammates protect each other's six (back). At the end of the battle, they want themselves, their teammates, and their team to emerge victorious, physically unscathed and with their honor intact. Captain Terry Slatic helped bring home all 178 marines and eight sailors in his company. To this the Varsity Athletes Club says "Go Rams" and "Semper Fidelis".
Terry and his family live in Fresno, California. He is a division manager with a firm that deals in veterinary pharmaceuticals. He is still in the Marine Corps Reserves, now at the rank of Major.