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
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
"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
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
"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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