III Corps Brings Two Brothers, Two Careers Together
(June 3, 2010)
Army Maj. Shawn Butler, left, and his older brother, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Richard Butler, are both assigned III Corps, despite belonging to different branches of the service. On June 28, Lt. Cmdr. Butler will complete a blue-to-green transfer to become an Army major.
| ||BAGHDAD (May 29, 2010) – Wielding a kid-size lacrosse stick, Army Maj. Shawn Butler dodged to the left of his older brother, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Richard Butler, and hurled a small red ball at a goal set up on one end of the concrete slab that doubles as a soccer field at Camp Victory, Iraq. |
After being in Iraq for three months, the Butlers finally found time in thier first deployment together to play the game they grew up with.
For the brothers, playing lacrosse together in Iraq was less exceptional than the path that brought them both here with III Corps, and dramatically changed Lt. Cmdr. Butler's career path.
As kids, the Butlers played Army in the back yard of their Rush, N.Y. home, inspired by their grandfather's stories about his time with the 101st Cavalry during World War II, and in spite of a three-year age
|difference they stayed close during high school, running cross-country and playing lacrosse. By the time they reached adulthood, both men were headed toward military careers. |
|Lieutenant Commander Butler went to University of Rochester on a Navy ROTC scholarship and earned his commission in 1995. |
Major Butler attended St. Bonaventure University on an Army ROTC scholarship, after his mother persuaded him to look at college instead of enlisting in the Army early. He was commissioned in 1998.
Five years later, Maj. Butler was in northern Iraq near the Iranian border. He was a captain then, in command of Service Battery, 1st Battalion, 17th Field Artillery.
Lieutenant Commander Butler, a lieutenant at the time, was also in Iraq, commanding USS Firebolt, a coastal patrol ship. He and his crew patrolled Iraq's coastal waters and the Khar Abd Allah waterway south of Umm Quasr for seven months.
He returned for a second deployment on the Firebolt in 2005. After that tour he had 10 years of sea duty under his belt and decided it was time to pursue his Masters in National Security Affairs at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif.
Maj. Butler returned to Iraq in September, 2006 with a Military Transition Team.
"I started in Kirkuk and brought a Kurdish Iraqi Army battalion down with the MiTT team. We were in for the surge in January of '07 and stayed in Baghdad until mid-September," he said.
That spring, Lt. Cmdr. Butler was finishing up his school and was on the lookout for new orders.
"It was time to do a joint tour. I didn't really want to do a joint tour that strapped me to a desk," he said.
During his search he came across III Corps' lone Navy slot under the Joint Military Exchange Program.
He e-mailed his brother for his opinion. The corps was deployed in Iraq, and Maj. Butler had orders to join them at Fort Hood when they returned. It seemed like a good opportunity to co-locate their families and spend some timetogether.
According to Lt. Cmdr. Butler, his brother was on a phone about 10 minutes later.
"He grabbed an iridium phone, called and said 'Swear word, yes'."
By July, 2007, Lt. Cmdr. Butler had gotten his orders and found himself at Camp Victory with the corps.
Major Butler was stationed at Al Muthana at that time, scheduled to return to the U.S. in September and PCS to III Corps.
In 2008 the brothers reunited at Fort Hood.
"It's like if we had grown up and been civilians and stayed in the same area," Lt. Cmdr. Butler said, "We have an awful lot of mutual friends throughout corps HQ and at Fort Hood. It makes social life a lot of fun."
In February the brothers deployed together for the first time when III Corps returned to Iraq.
According to Lt. Cmdr. Butler, the chance to hang out with his brother isn't the only thing that's different about this deployment. After 15 years of Navy service, he's jumping ship.
"I've always asked where the best place is for me," he said. "Since I 'joined the Army' at III Corps, I've been healthier, my family life has been better, I've enjoyed helping solve the hard problems the Army has to solve.
Everything just sort of fell in line and I said maybe I should think about doing a blue-to-green transfer."
With some research and a lot of support from his former bosses at the corps, he was recently approved for the transfer.
On June 28, Lt. Cmdr. Richard Butler will pull the U.S. Navy tape off his Army Combat Uniform and put on one that says U.S. Army and become Maj. Richard Butler, an Air Defense Artillery officer.
"He came on the winning team finally," his brother said, "It only took 15 years."
With III Corps, The Butler brothers' lives and careers have come together more closely than either one imagined in 2007, but they both know it won't last forever.
"After this deployment's over, I have to go on to training at Fort Leavenworth," Maj. Butler said. "I may not be able to come back to Fort Hood. The opportunity to be together this close, whether he's in the Navy or the Army, or if one of us is retired, may not be there, so we take advantage of it as much as we can."
|Article and photo Army SFC Roger Dey|
103rd Public Affairs Detachment
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