Saturday, June 02, 2007

Steve Butcher has services ahead of burial at Arlington

U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Steve Butcher Jr. knew the meaning of love.

Last week, the former Penfield resident sacrificed his life to protect his family, his fellow soldiers and his country.

Today, about 150 people gathered at New Covenant Christian Fellowship in Penfield to remember Butcher, 27, who died on May 23 in Ramadi, Iraq. He and another soldier – Pfc. Daniel P. Cagle, 22, of Carson, Calif. – were fatally wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near their unit in Ramadi. Butcher, who joined the Army about five years ago, was on his third tour of duty in Iraq.

Friends and family members described Butcher, a 1997 graduate of Penfield High School, as a loyal, loving and caring man who led by example. As an infantry squad leader, Butcher led 10 men in combat.

“My son told often told me about his concern for his men,” his father Steve Butcher Sr. said during the service. “He told me he’d do anything to keep them safe – that he’d bend the rules to protect them.”

Jarrod Kunze, who served with Butcher on two tours of duty, fought back tears during the service as he recalled his friend’s ability to add humor to any situation. He described Butcher as “the go-to guy” to settle debates, diffuse arguments and repair just about any broken item.

Michael Lee Oates, commanding general for the 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum, N.Y. said Butcher was well-loved and well-respected and was known as a “true leader.”

“We aren’t told how many days we get to live, but we get to decide what to do with them,” Oates said. “I am humbled by his actions.”

During the service, Oates presented Butcher’s parents Steve Sr. and Dianna of Irondequoit with a crisply folded American flag that had moments earlier adorned their son’s casket. Oates also gave the family a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, two awards that reflect Steve Butcher Jr.’s actions in combat.

Steve Butcher Jr. will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery at a later date.

“My son frequently referred to me as being his hero,” said Steve Butcher Sr. “But the truth is known by the whole country – he is the hero.”

From the Democrat and Chronicle

Related Link:
Steve Butcher Jr. dies of 'wounds suffered when an improvised explosive device detonated near his unit'