Lt. Col. Donald Slesnick II - US Army (Retired) - Coral Gables, FL
Donald Slesnick II served in the United States Army for over 20 years and retired as a Lt. Colonel after serving in Vietnam and Europe. He commanded our local Army Reserve Civil Affairs unit and after retirement, he became an Army Reserve Ambassador. He continues to serve with Army Reserve Ambassador Emeritus status. Mr. Slesnick had a stellar career as an attorney and as an elected official including serving as Mayor of the City of Coral Gables.
Mr. Slesnick was instrumental in lobbying to bring SOUTHCOM to South Florida. He worked tirelessly to generate both political and community support to bring that geographic combatant command to our community. Several years ago, SOUTHCOM commander General Doug Fraser recognized him for his great work in support of SOUTHCOM by presenting him with the Army’s Outstanding Civilian Service Award.
Included among his community awards he has received: the 1993 Bill Colson Community Leadership Award from Leadership Miami; the 1998 Miami-Dade County Medal of Merit for Leadership, in 2007 was included in the SunPost’s list of the “50 Most Influential Persons in South Florida”, was chosen in 2004 by South Florida CEO magazine as one of the “Top 101 Global Leaders of South Florida”, was the first Floridian awarded the Friend of Foreign Service Medal by the Republic of China (Taiwan) and was named the 2011 “Citizen of the Year” by the Kiwanis Clubs of South Florida. In both 2014 and 2015 he was named as a “Distinguished Honoree” for the George E. Merrick Award of Excellence by the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce. In 2017 he received the Miami Today “Gold Medal Award” and in 2018 he was presented the “Distinguished Member Award” by Leadership Florida.
- Retired Lt. Colonel – U.S. Army – Artillery/Civil Affairs
- 3 years active service including tours in Federal Republic of Germany (5th USA Artillery Group – NATO – Atomic warheads custodian); Vietnam (29th Civil Affairs Company, Mil. Region 1 – advisor to the Vietnamese Federal Police).
- 20 + years Army Reserve Duty including Commander of the 478th Civil Affairs Company and Deputy Commander of the 3387th USAR School. (Both units located at the University of Miami.)
- Graduate of the Air War College and Distinguished Graduate of the Army Command & General Staff School.
- Recognitions include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal (3 Oak Leaf Clusters), U.S. Vietnam Service Medal, Gov’t of Vietnam Service Medal and Vietnamese Staff Medal (1st Class).
Civilian Service Related to the Local Military Community:
- Founding Member of the GMCC MAC
- Chair, of GMCC MAC (1991 – 1994/1996 – 1997/2011 – 2013) [Instituted the Annual Military Awards Luncheon]
- Founding Chair of the GMCC Visiting Ships Program (1987 – 1991)
- Vice Chair, U.S.S. Miami Commissioning Committee (1988 – 1990)
- Co-Chair, Homestead Air Force Base Subcommittee, We Will Rebuild (1992-1993)
- Convening Chair, “Team Miami – SOUTHCOM” (1994 – 2000)
- Co-Chair, “Team Miami – Homestead Air Reserve Base (1994 – 1996)
- Awards related to above activities: U. S. Coast Guard Commandant’s
– “Meritorious Service Award” (1997);
– Dade County “Medal of Merit [Leadership]” (1998);
– Miami-Dade County League of Cities “Col. Lettie Bien Freedom Award” – (2008);
– U.S. Army “Outstanding Civilian Service Award” (2012)
Other Civilian Activities Related to the Military:
- Army Reserve Ambassador for Florida (2000 – 2015)
- Army Reserve Ambassador – Emeritus (2015 – Present)
- Area Chairman (Miami-Dade County), Florida Committee for Employer
Support of the Guard & Reserve (1996 – 2001)
- President, Army-Navy Club of Coral Gables (1985 – 1986)
- Vice-President/Army- Reserve Officers Association, Dept, of Florida (1977- 1978)
- President, Chapter 24, Reserve Officers Association (1977 – 1978)
- Commander, Department of Florida/South, Military Order of World Wars (1982-1983)
- Life Member-Veterans of Foreign Wars
I have known Don Slesnick for •at-over 20 years. Don is not only a friend but he has served as a mentor to me on all things military-related. If not for Don Slesnick, I would not have the honor (and privilege) of serving our country as the Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army (CASA) for South Florida. He has been that instrumental in my life. From the moment I met Don, he has been a shining example of the consummate citizen, soldier, patriot, community leader, philanthropist, and loving family man. I am a much better person for knowing Don and countless other men (and women) in South Florida will surely say the same thing. He has touched countless lives with his servant leadership, humility and selfless service.
As I write this letter, I look over my monitor to see a photograph on my wall of Don and me taken on June 13th, 2006. We are with the crew of USS GRIDLEY DDG 101, the first US Navy warship commissioned in South Florida. Don served on our commissioning committee and was instrumental with the intense planning, fundraising and community engagement for that historic event that drew over 5000 people and received national attention. That is but one of many military and veterans activities that Don has actively supported for as long as I have known him. Every senior military and political leader in South Florida knows and respects Don Slesnick. He is a champion not just for his beloved Army but for all the service branches and all of our veterans. Every Memorial Day and every Veterans’ Day you will find Don “front and center” honoring the great sacrifice of our men and women in uniform. He does so without fanfare or publicity– because he truly loves his country. A former US Army officer, Don served in Vietnam and in Europe. He commanded our local Army Reserve Civil Affairs unit and after retirement (as a Lt. Colonel) he became an Army Reserve Ambassador. He continues to serve with Army Reserve Ambassador Emeritus status.
In addition to his military service, Don has had a stellar career as an attorney and as an elected official including serving as Mayor of the City of Coral Gables, our hometown. Don and his wife Jeannette are very involved in the community and Don has served for many years on countless non-profit boards, various chambers and foundations as well as with the Orange Bowl Organizing Committee. He has left an indelible mark on South Florida and made it a much better place. He has led by example, showing us the true meaning of being a patriot and a public servant. His work ethic, character, cheerful disposition and humility sets the standard for others to emulate. Don was instrumental in lobbying to bring SOUTHCOM to South Florida. He worked tirelessly to generate both political and community support to bring that geographic combatant command to our community. Several years ago, SOUTHCOM commander General Doug Fraser recognized him for his great work in support of SOUTHCOM by presenting him with the Army’s Outstanding Civilian Service Award. The room was with filled with numerous community leaders, dignitaries and military officials all of whom were thrilled to see Don recognized for his leadership.