Monday, July 23, 2007

Rhett A. Butler dies 'of wounds suffered when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device'

A cavalry scout from Fort Lewis was killed Friday when his Stryker was hit by a bomb northeast of Baghdad, the Department of Defense reported Monday.

Cpl. Rhett A. Butler, 22, of Fort Worth, was killed in Khan Bani Sa’d, about 25 miles northeast of the capital, according to a Pentagon news release.

He was assigned to the 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, a unit of the 4th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division.

Fort Lewis officials said Butler joined the Army in July 2004 and arrived at the post the following June after training as a cavalry scout.

Family members told the hometown Fort Worth Star-Telegram on Monday that Butler had to fight hard just to get into the Army, where he wanted to pursue his dream of being a soldier.

When he first tried to enlist after graduating from high school in 2003, he failed a breathing test. Recruiters suspected he might have asthma.

The following year he tried again and passed the breathing test, but this time his body fat percentage was 1 point too high.

So he ran twice a day and ate a strict diet of salad and chicken breasts, his sister, Shawna Conway of Glen Rose, Texas, told the Star-Telegram.

In 12 days, she said, “he went back 12 pounds lighter and signed the dotted line.”

Family members said Butler tried culinary school in between his enlistment attempts but his heart was set on the military. His father, David Butler, served in the Navy during Vietnam, several uncles and cousins were also in the service.

“Our family had always done it,” David Butler told the newspaper. “So I didn’t discourage it.”

The 4th Brigade left Fort Lewis in April and arrived in Iraq in early May.

Conway said her brother seemed to have adjusted to a soldier’s life in Iraq and told her he planned to re-enlist and try to join the Special Forces.

“When he called, he was usually upbeat,” she told the Star-Telegram. “If he was down, it was because a soldier he knew was killed.

“One time I asked if he was getting shot at and he said, ‘It’s a good day if we’re only getting shot at.’”

Butler is the third soldier from his cavalry squadron to be killed since it arrived in Iraq, and the 17th soldier from the 4th Brigade.

He is also the 140th Fort Lewis-based service member to die in the Iraq war

From the News Tribune