Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Texas Soldier Praised for Strong Work Ethic and Character

He was raised from "humble beginnings" in Texas, an A and B student who showed a lot of athletic skill and self-discipline, a tough young man with a strong work ethic.

That's how friends and acquaintances describe Paul "PJ" Slough, the Army veteran among the five former Blackwater guards now being tried on manslaughter allegations while protecting the life of an American diplomat.

"Knowing P.J. the way we did, obviously we are going to be on his side," says his former teacher and football coach, Mike Norrell. "I know those men are trained . . . and I suspect they were in a hostile situation and one thing led to another," he tells the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I think they thought they were doing their jobs. That’s the kind of guy P.J. is, the one who will always do his job."

An ankle injury prevented Slough (pronounced "Slo") from being a paratrooper, but he joined the Army straight out of high school as an infantry soldier, served in Bosnia, was honorably discharged, then joined the Texas National Guard and served in Iraq before joining Blackwater.

The Star-Telegram cites an ABC News report that quoted Slough as recounting the start of the September 16, 2007 shootout at Nisoor Square: "'Fearing for my life and the lives of my teammates, I engaged the driver and stopped the threat,' he said in the statement.

"There were other shots too, he said — from a shack behind the car, from a red bus and from another red vehicle, as well as from a uniformed person pushing a vehicle toward the convoy and from a man in a blue shirt with an assault weapon, his statement said. 'I was engaged in order to stop the threat.'"

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