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John Clarence Butler

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John Clarence Butler
John C. Butler (US Navy Ensign).jpg
Butler circa 1941, at about the time he finished flight training. US Navy photo.
Born(1921-02-02)February 2, 1921
Liberty, Arizona
DiedJune 4, 1942(1942-06-04) (aged 21)
KIA near Midway Island
AllegianceUnited States of America
Service/branchUnited States Navy
Years of service1941-1942
Battles/warsWorld War II
*Battle of Midway
AwardsNavy Cross

John Clarence Butler (1921–1942) was a United States Navy officer and naval aviator who had a role in World War II's Battle of Midway. He was awarded the Navy Cross posthumously.[1]


Butler was born in Liberty, Arizona to Walter and Irene Butler. After high school, he attended the University of California at Los Angeles and San Diego State University. He enlisted in the United States Naval Reserve on February 19, 1941, qualified for flight training, and was appointed as an Aviation Cadet on April 3.[2]

After flight training, he reported to Second Division of Bombing Squadron Three on board aircraft carrier Yorktown (CV-5).[3] On 4 June 1942, Butler and his squadron attacked a Japanese task force during the Battle of Midway, and succeeded in sinking three aircraft carriers. When Bulter's squadron returned to the Yorktown (CV-5) that night, his plane was not among them; his body was never recovered.[3]

For his part in this attack, Butler was posthumously awarded the Navy Cross.[1]


USS John C Butler

In 1943, the destroyer escort USS John C. Butler (DE-339) was named in his honor.[4]

The people of Buckeye also sought to memorialize Butler's contributions to the war effort. The Buckeye Municipal Airport named its airfield the "John C. Butler Memorial Field" in his honor.[5] In addition, Buckeye's American Legion Hazelton-Butler Post No. 53 was named for him.[2]

Awards and decorations[edit]

John Clarence Butler 's awards and decorations include:[6]

Navy Cross.png
Purple Heart Medal.svg
Navy Cross Purple Heart American Defense Service Medal
Fleet Clasp
Presidential Unit Citation
(United States)
Navy Cross Citation — John Clarence Butler (MIA)
The President of the United States of America takes pride in presenting the Navy Cross (Posthumously) to Ensign John Clarence Butler (NSN: 0-104236), United States Naval Reserve, for extraordinary heroism in operations against the enemy while serving as Pilot of a carrier-based Navy Dive Bomber of Bombing Squadron THREE (VB-3), attached to the U.S.S. YORKTOWN (CV-5), during the "Air Battle of Midway," against enemy Japanese forces on 4–6 June 1942. Ensign Butler took part in dive-bombing attacks against Japanese naval forces in the Battle of Midway. Disregarding the extreme danger from intense anti-aircraft fire and enemy fighter opposition, he, vigorously and with heroic determination, pressed home his attacks against the Japanese invasion fleet. His gallant intrepidity and loyal devotion to the accomplishment of a vastly important objective contributed in large measure to the success achieved by our forces and were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.

General Orders: Bureau of Naval Personnel Information Bulletin No. 309 (December 1942)

Action Date: June 4–6, 1942

Service: Navy

Rank: Ensign

Battalion: Bombing Squadron 3 (VB-3)

Division: U.S.S. Yorktown (CV-5)[1]

See also[edit]

Other articles of the topic World War II : Max Silverstein, Chester Thomas O'Brien, London Lewis Traw, Robert Burr Smith, Harry James Lowe Jr., Robert Lee Pettit, William Finnic Cates
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  • Book:John C. Butler-class destroyer escorts

External links[edit]

This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships.
  • John C. Butler (DE-339), Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships, Naval Historical Center, Department of the Navy.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "Hall of Valor: John Clarence Butler". Militarytimes.com. Military Times. Archived from the original on 12 July 2017. Retrieved 12 July 2017. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Meck, Verlyne (2015). Legendary Locals of Buckeye. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing. p. 23. ISBN 9781467102001. Retrieved 20 June 2017. Search this book on Amazon.com Logo.png
  3. 3.0 3.1 Commander, Bombing Squadron THREE (June 10, 1942). "Commander, Bombing Squadron 3 (VB-3). Action Report". Midway, 1942. Commander, ENTERPRISE Air Group. Archived from the original (doc) on June 26, 2017. Retrieved June 26, 2017. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  4. "USS John C. Butler (DE 339)". Navsource Online. Navsource Naval History. Archived from the original on 14 June 2017. Retrieved 12 July 2017. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)Navy Source Archives
  5. "John C. Butler Memorial Field - Hangar Waiting List" (PDF). Arizona Government. December 2014. Archived from the original (pdf) on 24 January 2017. Retrieved 12 July 2017. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)
  6. "Veteran's Organization - John C. Butler". American Legion Post 53. Archived from the original on 12 July 2017. Retrieved 12 July 2017. Unknown parameter |url-status= ignored (help)

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