Russ Slatton served 27 years in the U.S. Navy

November 11, 2018

Russ Slatton, public services director for the city of Hartsville, is a U.S. Navy veteran of 27 years.

HARTSVILLE, S.C. -- When Russell Slatton came to work for the city of Hartsville as public services director a year and a half ago, he brought with him 27 years of experience and training in the United States Navy.

Slatton retired from the Navy on Oct. 1, 2016. He entered the service in September of 1989 at the age of 18. He went through basic training in Orlando, Florida, and submarine school in Groton, Connecticut. He also went through training to become a yeoman working mostly in human resources and administration .

He said he enlisted because he needed some stability and direction in his life.

“I felt like I was at a point in my life where I was going to wind up dead or in jail,” he said.

The Navy, he said, gave him what he looking for.

“It gave me a stable environment for 27 years,” he said.

A native of Taylors, South Carolina, in north Greenville County, Slatton graduated from Blue Ridge High School .

After completing submarine training, Slatton said, his first submarine assignment was aboard the USS John C. Calhoun out of Charleston.

Much of his work involved payroll, processing, re-enlistments and postal work among other duties .

“It was very uninteresting work,” he said.

He said he later went through officer’s training and received a number of awards and commendations.

He completed college and received a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Southern Illinois University while in the Navy, he said.

Slatton said he served on multiple deployments during his career. They typically ranged from about three to six months, he said.

The longest, he said, was a nine-month deployment to Kuwait in 2010. That was the closest he ever came to a combat deployment.

“I was never in a wartime situation where we were being shot at,” he said. “That’s the closest I ever came to being in harm’s way.”

He said the hardest part of deployments was being away from his family for extended periods. Slatton and his wife, Kathryn, have three children ranging in age from 13 to 26.

Slatton said he still misses many of the people he served with in the Navy.

“I miss the people. I miss the camaraderie,” he said. “I like working with people. I got close to a lot of people. There’s a lot of diversity in the military.”

But he said he knew it was time to leave.

“As you start to get a little older, it gets a little more difficult to do more things,” he said. “I knew it was time. I was happy that I left when it did.”

He said he was working as a contractor in Virginia when he learned of a job opening in Hartsville. It offered a chance to again be close to family – he has a brother who lives in Blythewood .

Slatton said the Navy was a good career choice for him. He said it is where he learned the management skills that he uses in his work today.

He said the military can be a good career choice for young people but cautioned that it is not for everyone.

“The military will do for you, and it will allow you to do for yourself,” he said. “In the Navy, it’s like with any job. You get out of it what you put into it.”

Slatton said he enjoys his work with the city, and the Navy helped prepare him for it.

“I like serving people,” he said. “We like being here and I like serving the people of Hartsville.”

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