Pete Slempa was born in April 1937 in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on August 18, 1954, and after completing basic training at Bainbridge, Maryland, and boiler technician training at Great Lakes, Michigan, he served aboard the light cruiser USS Worcester (CL-144) from January 1955 to July 1957. PO Slempa next attended Underwater Demolition Team training at NAB Coronado, California, before serving with UDT-11 from November 1957 to January 1962, and then with SEAL Team ONE from January 1962 to March 1972. During this time, MCPO Slempa deployed to Vietnam from April 1964 to March 1965, September 1965 to April 1966, November 1966 to May 1967, March to September 1968, October 1969 to February 1970, and from March to August 1971. He was selected as Plank Owner, SEAL Team ONE, and was the first Master Chief in SEAL Team One. His next assignment was as Team Commander of the Navy Parachute Team, the Leap Frogs, from March 1972 to May 1973, followed by service as a recruiter with Naval Recruiting District Portland, Oregon, from June 1973 until his retirement from the Navy on September 1, 1976. After retiring from the Navy, Pete served as a Navy Junior ROTC instructor from January 1977 to April 1979, and then he was reactivated into the Navy on May 1, 1979, for recruiting duty. MCPO Slempa again served with Naval Recruiting District Portland from May 1979 until going back into retirement on May 1, 1983. He and his wife Linda retired to Chehalis, Washington.
His 1st Navy and Marine Corps Medal Citation reads:
For heroism on 3 November 1964 while assisting in the rescue of flood victims in the Danang area, Republic of Vietnam. While traveling across the already flooded Danang River Bridge, SLEMPA, observing many Vietnamese flood victims in various stages of distress, commenced to render immediate assistance, leading or carrying people on his back from seriously endangered areas to his truck. After making four round trips to safe locations, he searched homes for other flood victims. During this period, heavy rains, gusty winds, a water level of several feet on the bridge roadway and floating debris carried by the swift current made rescue efforts extremely hazardous. SLEMPA continued in his rescue efforts until the river and conditions made further efforts impossible. Through his prompt, selfless and courageous actions in this emergency, he was responsible for saving many lives and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
His 2nd Navy and Marine Corps Medal Citation reads:
For heroism on the morning of 3 September 1966, as jump master in an aircraft loaded with Vietnamese parachute trainees. Observing that a member of the second stick of jumpers exited poorly and was caught in the static line of the preceding jumper, Chief Petty Officer Slempa immediately initiated the correct emergent procedures, directing the assistant jump master to join him in pulling the jumper back into the aircraft. After much difficulty, the inert body was brought to the lip of the aircraft's tail ramp, but could not be pulled further. Without hesitation, Chief Petty Officer Slempa crawled to the edge of the ramp and, grasping what foothold he could, extended his body over the edge of the ramp, out of the plane, to assist the stricken jumper. This effort was successful in bringing the man into the aircraft. Discovering that the man was unconscious and not breathing, Chief Petty Officer Slempa prepared to start mouth-to-mouth respiration, when a sharp blow on the jumper's chest, struck to release the parachute harness lock-box, initiated breathing. By his prompt and courageous efforts in the face of great personal risk, Chief Petty Officer Slempa undoubtedly saved a life and upheld the highest tradition of the United States Naval Service.