NO. 17764 • 3 September 1927 – 21 June 1972
Killed in Action June 21, 1972 in An Loc, Viet Nam, aged 44 Years.
THE DAILY BULLETIN of 3 July 1972: Headquarters, USMA, announced that funeral services for LTC Charles Lewis Butler '50 would be conducted in the Old Cadet Chapel on 5 July. Interment in the Post Cemetery would follow. It came as no surprise to any classmate that West Point would be Chuck’s final resting place - much as he revered the Academy. Yet we realize, too, that when killed in action in Viet Nam on 21 Jun 1972, Chuck was only 44 years old, never destined to grow older, and never to tread on the Plain again. No more seeing the family to which he had grown so devoted.
Chuck was born in 1927, a product of Grand Rapids, MI, where he attended grammar school. Grand Rapids Central High School, and even a junior college. As soon as Chuck entered USMA on 1 Jul 1946 as a member of the Class of '50, it was obvious that he had attained a long-sought goal. Though it would perhaps be an exaggeration to claim Chuck was fond of Beast Barracks, he willingly embraced all that was in store - much to the amazement of his classmates!
On the quiet side as a cadet, Chuck worked diligently and mainly enjoyed swimming and water polo. A member of the camera club for several years, he was active in the production of The Pointer and, in First Class year, was an associate editor.
It is interesting to note that the '50 Howitzer predicted Chuck would truly be an asset to the Army. How time proved the accuracy of that foresight! To be sure, the military career of this private and intense cadet undermines any notion that heroism is the only province of the bombastic.
Upon graduation, Chuck married Joan "Jo" Haskell at West Point on 11 Jun 1950. Commissioned into the Infantry, he initially was assigned to Ft. Devens, MA. Like so many of his classmates, however, Chuck soon found himself in Korea serving as a platoon leader in the 7th Infantry Division. His fledgling days in combat were few; after only a couple of weeks, Chuck was wounded in action and evacuated to Japan. In that brief period of time, however, Chuck distinguished himself with monumental valor. As a combat infantryman, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross as well as the Bronze Star. Few can rival that recognition at all, much less in so short a period of time.
Once recovered from his wounds, Chuck returned to the Infantry School at Ft. Benning as a student and then was retained on the school staff and faculty. Later assignments included company command in the 37th Armored Infantry Battalion in Germany and the 3rd Armored Division.
Following a tour at the University of Mississippi, Chuck found his way back to combat duty, this time in Viet Nam. On 21 Jun 1972, Chuck was killed in action while serving with the forward-most regiment seeking to relieve the siege of An Loc, Viet Nam - surely, one small war in the overall history of the human race, but in no way insignificant for this classmate.
If anyone exemplified that "Duty, Honor, Country" has been - and will continue to be - the noblest calling, it was Chuck Butler. Some solace comes from the knowledge that, to the end of time, Chuck will remain at peace where he most wanted to be - at West Point. And in the everlasting annals of the Infantry, this is one officer with an outstanding combat record who deserves special recognition and profound appreciation. He has mine.