GIBSONIA, PA, USA U.S. Army CW4, TROOP C, 2ND SQUADRON, 17TH CAVALRY REGIMENT, FORT CAMPBELL, KY BAGRAM, AFGHANISTAN 09/11/2008
From a decision made when he was young came an Army career that spanned more than two decades, service in three wars and dozens of medals, badges and other accolades.
Chief Warrant Officer 4 Michael “Mickey” Slebodnik, 39; assigned to the 2nd Battalion, 17th Cavalry Regiment, 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), based at Fort Campbell, Kentucky; died September 11, 2008, at Bagram Airfield. He was conducting a reconnaissance and surveillance mission that day when the OH-58 Kiowa Warrior helicopter he was piloting came under small-arms fire near Forward Operating Base Nagil.
As a child, “Mickey,” as his family called him, wore camouflage, played with army men, painted models and staged battles. A talented artist and a math whiz, his primary interest was the military. He was fascinated by the Civil War and battle strategy and developed a strong bond with his grandfather, Wade Peters, who served in World War II. Mickey was so eager to join the Army that he went through a delayed entry program and enlisted at 17, right after graduating from Richland High School in 1987.
He was fiercely committed to the military. “He loved the military. He wanted to fly. He loved being a soldier.” He was an aeroscout observer during Operation Desert Storm. He later served five tours in Iraq during the current war and began his only tour in Afghanistan in January, 2008.
He loved playing chess, which his mother attributes to the game’s strategic aspect. He was a loving father and a voracious eater, but first and foremost, Mickey was a soldier.
Yet despite what he witnessed in war, his sister says in life, Mickey had compassion, character and was faith epitomized.
“Mickey believed in God and believed in prayer,” she said. “He looked for the goodness in everyone. He also told my mom he loved what he was doing, and if he died, he did it doing what he loved and not to be sad.”
Michael Slebodnik is survived by his wife, four children, two stepchildren, his parents, a brother and a sister.
He was in almost 22 years, he could have easily gotten out. “He never chose that option. It’s like a complete mission — you don’t leave until your mission is complete.” The task, the earthly mission God gave Mickey, has been accomplished. Every time he got in that helicopter he knew he was in God’s hands. Now he is at God’s side. God Bless you, Mickey.