LAKE PLACID - Joseph Slade might not think he deserves any medals but the U.S. Veterans Affairs and Cornerstone Hospice and Palliative Care made sure he received the honoraria he earned for his service in the U.S. Navy.
On March 12, Slade, 90, who achieved the rank of Petty Officer 1st Class, was recognized with a Cornerstone SALUTES! at Southern Lifestyle Assisted Living Facility. Slade enlisted in May 1941, six months before Pearl Harbor was bombed during World War II.
Slade was stationed in Brazil and patrolled the coast of South America looking for German submarines aboard seaplane tenders that provided a base for seaplanes used for air patrol and bombing missions.
"We used echo ranging technology to trail the German submarines," said Slade. "We'd send out a signal or ping and if it hit the submarine, the echo would come back as a pong and we'd just follow our target."
He was aboard a ship that helped sink an enemy submarine and ultimately rescued 13 German survivors. That mission earned Slade a Superior Ship Award from the Navy, which was presented to him by Cornerstone Hospice volunteer and retired Lt. Col. Russell Ramsey, along with an American Defense Service Medal awarded to anyone who enlisted in the military before Pearl Harbor.
Slade stayed in the Navy for six years and then was reactivated during the Korean War while in the Naval Reserves. During that six-month deployment, he was stationed in the Mediterranean Sea.
"It is extremely rare to be able to honor veterans from his era that served in two wars," said Ramsey.
After his honorable discharge from the Navy, Slade returned to his home state of North Carolina, where he eventually became a high school civics teacher and a coach.
Established in 2010, the Cornerstone SALUTES! program, honors local veterans with a ceremony, led by a specially-trained U.S. veteran volunteer, tailor-made for the veteran patient and family. During the ceremony, the veteran patient is presented with a special pin and Certificate of Appreciation. Approximately 25-30 ceremonial pinnings are held each month throughout Cornerstone Hospice's seven-county region and that number is expected to increase.