James “Red” Butler passed away in the arms of his daughter at home in Griffin, Ga. on Dec. 17, 2013.
An Apalachicola native, he was born May 6, 1926, son of the late George W. and Pearlie Melvin Butler. He completed Chapman High School in 1942, and on his 17th birthday enlisted in the Navy.
During four years of service in the Navy, with amphibious forces aboard the USS LST 505, Butler took part in battles at Normandy, at Omaha, Utah, Gold, Juno and Sword beaches; in the invasion of Southern France, at Cannes, Gulf of St. Tropes and Marseille beaches; in the Philippines at Leyte Gulf, Tacloban and Luzon; and at Okinawa Gunto, at Buckner Bay, Ie Shima and various beaches.
After the war ended Aug. 14, 1945, Butler was assigned occupation duty in Inchon, Korea until May 5, 1946, and then trained Chinese Nationalist soldiers in amphibious warfare, sailing from Manchuria in North China to French Indochina in South China.
After he returned to the states and was discharged May 7, 1947, Butler enlisted Sept. 1, 1948 with the Air Force. He was assigned to Brookley Air Force Base in Mobile, Ala., as chief engineer in a crash rescue boat squadron. Over the next decade, he served overseas duty in stations in Guam, Tripoli, Libya and Ellenco, Greece.
Butler returned to the U.S. in 1958, and attended air defense training as an equipment specialist, tracking all planes entering the U.S. He retired from the Air Force at Fort Lee Air Force Station on Oct. 31, 1964.
Butler received numerous medals and awards during his 20-plus year military career, including three Bronze Stars, medals for the liberation of Europe, China and the Philippines, and Good Conduct medals with oak leaves.
A member of the Baptist church, his military affiliations included LST Association, Navy LST Florida Chapter, the AAF-USAF Crash Rescue Boats Association, the DAV in Lake City, Ga., and American Legion Post 15 in Griffin, Ga.
He is survived by daughter Yvette Kelley, of Griffin, Ga. and son Arthur Butler, of Tampa; grandchildren Jessica Moragues, Crystal Richter, April French, Austin Butler, Logan Butler and Shannon Kelley; great-grandchildren Sarah French, Braden Richter, Trenton Richter and Bettie Jewel Butler; brothers Dody Butler, of Apalachicola, Raymond Butler, of Santa Fe, Texas; and Freddy Butler, of Texas City, Texas; and sisters Nancy Coker, of Texas City, Texas, Betty Scott, of Apalachicola, and Sally Cummings, of League City, Texas.
He was preceded in death by his wife, Bettie J. Taylor, and brother Milfred Butler.
Butler was buried with full military honors On Dec. 21, 2013 in Sumatra with services conducted by the Rev. Charles Scott. Pallbearers were Austin Butler, Logan Butler, Mike Richter, Kevin Moragues, Nathan Ford and Joshua Corley.