Local retired Air Force Colonel killed in Iraq
10 On Your Side has learned a retired Air Force Colonel from Yorktown has been killed in Iraq.
53-year-old Michael Butler was working as a private contractor when a rocket propelled grenade hit his vehicle.
It happened near Tikrit earlier this week.
According to our partners at the Daily Press, Butler retired from the Air Force last summer after 31 years. He lived with his wife and two sons in Yorktown for ten years while stationed at Langley Air Force Base. He went to work for DynCorp International and went to Iraq last December to train Iraqi police.
In a news release, DynCorp International CEO Herbert J. Lanese is quoated as saying: “I am deeply saddened by the loss of Mike Butler. He was a fine man, a strong leader, and a courageous individual who had provided outstanding direction and support for our program under very difficult circumstances.”
Butler was a senior manager supporting DynCorp International personnel assigned to the Civilian Police Advisory Training Team (CPATT) – the component of the U.S. military's Multinational Security Transition Command in Iraq.
He was riding with military personnel as part of a five-vehicle convoy during a transfer of prisoners when the convoy was attacked.
The family is planning a burial at Arlington National Cemetery.
DynCorp International Manager Killed in Iraq
FALLS CHURCH, Virginia – June 12, 2007 – Michael W. Butler, senior deputy program manager for DynCorp International's CIVPOL program in Iraq, was killed today near Tikrit when the vehicle in which he was traveling was struck by a rocket-propelled grenade. Mr. Butler was traveling in a five-vehicle military convoy that came under small-arms and IED attack at approximately 9:15 p.m. local time.
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Mike Butler,” said DynCorp International CEO Herbert J. Lanese. “He was a fine man, a strong leader, and a courageous individual who had provided outstanding direction and support for our program under very difficult circumstances. We were fortunate to be able to rely on his skill and judgment while he was in Iraq, and we will all miss him very much. On behalf of our entire DynCorp International family, I offer my deepest sympathy to his family at this difficult time.”
Mr. Butler, 53, of Rembert, South Carolina, was a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel. He had 31 years' experience in nearly all aspects of logistics, including supply, maintenance, transportation, contracting, aircraft maintenance, munitions, food service, billeting, and logistics plans. He had been in Iraq since December 2006.
Mr. Butler was a senior manager supporting DynCorp International personnel assigned to the Civilian Police Advisory Training Team (CPATT) – the component of the U.S. military's Multinational Security Transition Command in Iraq (MNSTC-I).
CPATT is responsible for the U.S.-led effort to train and equip the 135,000-member Iraqi police service. DynCorp International is responsible for recruiting, training, equipping, and supporting the 700-member U.S. contingent of trainers through a contract with the U.S. Department of State.
About DynCorp International
DynCorp International (NYSE:DCP) is a provider of specialized mission-critical technical services to civilian and military government agencies worldwide, and operates major programs in law enforcement training and support, security services, base operations, aviation services, contingency operations, and logistics support. Headquartered in Falls Church, Va., DynCorp International has approximately 14,000 employees worldwide. For more information, visit www.dyn-intl.com.
Mr. Butler and escort Mr. Thomas arrived in Kuwait early 14 Jun 07. Mr. Butler was then manifested on a military flight that left Kuwait at 0500 hrs local time and is expected to arrive at Dover Air Force Base at approximately 1600 hrs 15 Jun 07. Air Force Active Duty Major General Dutch Remkes, a friend of Mr. Butler’s, has requested to fly on the military flight from Germany to Dover and then onward to the home of record. Mr. Thomas will arrive commercially into Philadelphia on 14 Jun 2007.
There will be a service for Mr. Butler at the DynCorp Compound – Baghdad Hotel on Friday the 15th.
Mrs. Butler will request that Mr. Butler be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
14 Jun 07, Thursday – Mr. Butler and escort Eric Thomas arrived in Kuwait
14 Jun 07, Thursday – departed Kuwait
15 Jun 07, Friday – arrive at Dover Air Force Base
“He loved what he did,” Mike Butler, 24, said. “He traveled all over the world helping people.”
Michael “Mike” W. Butler, 53, who served 31 years in the Air Force, was killed Tuesday night when a rocket-propelled grenade struck his vehicle on the outskirts of Tikrit, Iraq.
Butler was working as a private contractor with DynCorp International, “a provider of specialized mission-critical technical services to civilian and military government agencies,” according to the company's Web site. He was riding with a mixed group of military police and military personnel during a transfer of prisoners when the five-vehicle convoy came under small-arms and improvised explosive device (IED) attack about 9:15 p.m. Tuesday near Tikrit.
“Mike was right in there working as an in-service mentor and observing their training as they were doing their jobs,” Greg Lagana, senior vice president of communications for DynCorp, said Thursday morning. “It was his job to see how they worked and how they did their jobs. His job was absolutely critical.”
Lagana said DynCorp has more than 700 police officers and additional military personnel in Iraq responsible for training Iraqi police.
“They are not there to police the area but to train,” Lagana said. “This was what Mike was doing.”
Butler was stationed at Shaw Air Force Base from July 2003 until he retired in March 2006.
While at Shaw, Butler was chief of logistics for U.S. Air Force Central Command (USCENTAF) and commander of the 609th Air Support Squadron. His responsibilities included logistics resources and planning for U.S. Central Command as well as to continue USCENTAF's mission to “develop contingency plans and conduct air operations in a 25-nation area of responsibility from Kenya to Kazakhstan,” which included “Operation Iraqi Freedom and the deployment of the USAF Air Expeditionary Wings.” Additional responsibilities listed in Butler's U.S. Air Force biography include the storage reconstitution and management of U.S. Air Force propositioned equipment in CENTCOM's area of responsibility.
During his career, Butler was awarded the Bronze Star with one oak leaf cluster, the Meritorious Service Medal with six oak leaf clusters and the Air Force Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster.
A Chicago native, Butler attended the U.S. Air Force Academy and graduated in 1976 with a bachelor of science degree in general studies. Three years later, he earned a master's degree in management from Troy State University. In 1981, Butler graduated from Squadron Office School. In 1987, he graduated from Air Command and Staff College and 10 years later, the Air War College.
Butler is survived by his wife, Joanne Elizabeth Butler, and two sons, Mike Butler, 24, and Daniel Butler, 19.
Mike Butler said the family is trying to come to terms with his father's death.
“It's difficult for my mom to talk,” Butler said. “He was devoted to my mom. When he talked about her, there was a twinkle in his eyes and his face just lit up.”
Butler said his father's love for his wife of 22 years was apparent.
“You could see in his face and his actions how much in love he was with my mother,” Butler said. “He was devoted to her.”
While his father was overseas, Butler said he communicated weekly.
“We kept up through e-mails because there weren't a lot of chances for him to call,” Butler said Thursday. “He talked with my mother.”
HONOR THE FALLEN
A Web site has been established for information and pictures of Michael “Mike” W. Butler, his career and his family. Funeral arrangements when they are finalized will be announced on the site. Log on to http://web.mac.com/flyingboat.
A memorial service for Butler will be held next week at Shaw Air Force Base. Interment with military honors will be at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington, D.C. Dates have not been announced.
Since learning of his father's death, Butler said he has been “touched” by the number of people who respected his father and expressed their sorrow over the family's loss.
“Not a single person that I've talked to didn't respect or like him,” Butler said. “That's a testimony to the way my dad lived his life.”
“A lot of people knew Mike,” Lagana said. “We worked with him while he was at Shaw. He was our boss and he was well-known.”
Lagana said he's been fielding telephone calls from all over the country and the world concerning the elder Butler's death.
“Everybody liked Mike,” he said. “An Air Force general wants to fly back with his body from Germany in to Dover (AFB). He was well-loved and highly regarded.”
Lieuetnant General Gary North, commander, 9th Air Force and U.S. Central Command Air Forces, said Thursday, “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Butler family. He served his nation, his Air Force and his family with distinction and honor.”
Colonel Robyn Burk served as Butler's deputy while he was stationed at Shaw.
“He was the best combination,” Burk said. “He was a strong leader, very mission-oriented, and he took care of his people. Not everyone does both well.”
Burk said her fellow officer put his life on hold to make sure the effort was successful.
“He had the ability to get the very best out of people,” she said. “He helped people do more … go above their expectations.”
When working the long hard hours of (Operation Iraqi Freedom), Burk said it was tough to keep exercising and Butler came up with a plan to train for a marathon.
“He trained with us,” Burk said, holding back tears. “We ran that marathan, the three of us, together.”
Burk said that during the past couple of days, she's talked with people in Iraq, Kuwait, Germany and all over the world about Butler's death.
“That's a testament to the kind of deep impact he had on people's lives,” she said. “He cared about the people he worked for. Without a doubt, I'm a better person because of him. I'm a better airman.
“He really was a hero,” she said. “What else can I say?”
DynCorp has a liaison with the family in Rembert, Lagana said, and a representative of the company will accompany the body from Iraq through Kuwait and Germany on its way to Dover and then to wherever the family chooses.
“The transfer of his body is being handled as if he were an active-duty official,” Lagana said. “He will be accompanied the entire trip from Iraq to the U.S. We are also offering grief counseling.”
Butler said his father went to work for DynCorp in December 2006, nine months after retiring in March 2006.
“My dad had to be doing something,” he said. “He was a humble man. He helped others without seeking any recognition. He never wanted to be recognized for his achievements.”
Butler said he believed his father's need to help others led him to Iraq.
“Every mission was important,” Butler said. “My father was where he wanted and needed to be. A place where he could help others.”
Funeral arrangements were not complete as of Thursday afternoon. However, Mike Butler said the family plans a memorial service at Shaw next week with interment at Arlington National Cemetery in Washington as soon as arrangements can be made.
Colonel Michael W. Butler was Chief of Logistics, United States Air Forces Central Command (USCENTAF), and Commander, 609th Air Support Squadron, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. He was responsible to the Commander, USCENTAF, for Air Force logistics resources and planning in the CENTCOM area of responsibility. As the air component of US Central Command, USCENTAF's mission is to develop contingency plans and conduct air operations in a 25-nation area of responsibility from Kenya to Kazakhstan. This includes Operation Iraqi Freedom and deployment of the USAF Air Expeditionary Wings. Additionally, he is responsible for the storage reconstitution and management of USAF prepositioned equipment in the CENTCOM AOR.
Colonel Butler entered the Air Force in 1976 upon graduation from the United States Air Force Academy. After commissioning, he was trained as an aircraft maintenance officer, maintenance supervisor, and squadron commander. With the reorganization into the objective wing, Colonel Butler performed duty as Deputy Logistics Group Commander, 39th Logistics Group, Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, and later Logistics Group Commander. His assignments have also included duty with the Inspector General for both Headquarters United States Air Forces Europe and Headquarters Air Combat Command.
Prior to his current assignment, Colonel Butler served as Chief, Systems Support Division (LGM), Directorate of Logistics, Headquarters Air Combat Command, Langley Air Force Base, Virginia. In this position, he oversaw the command's aircraft engines, avionics, environmental, technical orders, and support equipment, valued in excess of $23B, supporting over 3,000 aircraft assigned to the combat air forces. Additionally, Colonel Butler was responsible for developing, integrating and managing all requirements, modernization and sustainment activities for common aircraft systems and support systems.
Colonel Michael W. Butler EDUCATION:
1976 – Bachelor of Science, General Studies, US Air Force Academy
1979 – Master of Science Management, Troy State University
1981 – Squadron Officer School
1987 – Air Command and Staff College
1997 – Air War College
1. July 1976 – February 1977, Aircraft Maintenance Officer Course, Chanute AFB, Illinois
2. February 1977 – February 1980, Maintenance Officer, Job Control Office 36 OMS, 36 AGS, Bitburg Air Base, Germany (USAFE)
3. February 1980 – July 1983, OIC Job Control, EMS Maintenance Supervisor, 405 TTW (TAC), Luke AFB, Arizona
4. July 1983 – May 1986, Chief, Maintenance Manpower Requirements, Directorate of Logistics, HQ Tactical Air Command
5. May 1986 – May 1987, AGS Maintenance Supervisor, 8th TFW, Kunsan Air Base, Korea
6. June 1987- May 1988, Student, Air Command and Staff College
7. May 1988 – May 1991, Commander, 50th Component Repair Squadron, Hahn Air Base, Germany
8. May 1991 – July 1993, Chief, Maintenance Inspections, Directorate of Inspector General, HQ USAFE
9. July 1993 – July 1995, Deputy Commander, 39th Logistics Group, Incirlik AB, Turkey
10. July 1995 – February 1997, Chief, Operating Location Alpha, Logistics Support Saudi Arabia, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
11. February 1997 – May 1999, Chief Logistics Inspections Branch, Director of the Inspector General, HQ ACC, Langley AFB Virginia
12. May 1999- July 2001, Commander, 39th Logistics Group, Incirlik AB, Turkey
13. July 2001- July 2003, Chief, Systems Support Division (LGM) Directorate of Logistics, HQ ACC, Langley AFB, Virginia
14. July 2003 – June 2006, Director of Logistics, USCENTAF, Shaw AFB, South Carolina
EFFECTIVE DATES OF PROMOTION
Second Lieutenant June 2, 1976
First Lieutenant June 2, 1978
Captain June 2, 1980
Major Sep 1, 1987
Lieutenant Colonel Oct 1, 1992
Colonel Dec 1, 1998
Members of an Air Force honor guard stand in formation during the funeral of retired Air Force Colonel Michael W. Butler
A member of the Air Force casket team stands behind a caisson during the funeral of retired Air Force Colonel Michael W. Butler who was killed by a rocket propelled grenade while working as a private contractor in Iraq at Arlington National Cemetery Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Joanne Butler, center, the widow of retired Air Force Colonel Michael W. Butler is escorted by her son Mike, left, and Air Force Major General Dutch Remkes, right, during funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery, Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Joanne Butler, left, the widow of retired Air Force Colonel Michael W. Butler grieves by his coffin during his funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Joanne Butler, left, the widow of retired Air Force Colonel Michael W. Butler iscomforted by her son Mike, second left, as she receives the flag from her husband's coffin from Air Force Major General Dutch Remkes, right, during funeral services at Arlington National Cemetery, Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Reviewed by: Michael Howard