BUTLER, Dwight Robert
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Dwight Robert Butler was born November 29, 1917 in Sioux Falls, South Dakota to the late Stewart H. and Mary H. Butler and died September 17, 2012 in Spokane, Washington. He spent his early childhood in Sioux Falls, SD and Eagle Point, OR moving to Starbuck, WA in 1928 and later Dayton, WA in 1932. He earned the Eagle Boy Scout award and graduated from Dayton High School in 1936. Bob attended Whitman College where he was a member of the Phi Delta Theta fraternity graduating in 1941. While at Whitman College, he learned to fly when his fraternity brothers enrolled him in a Civil Air Patrol Pilot course.
After graduation Bob enlisted in the US Army Air Corps and reported for flight training to Kelly Field, Texas on January 1, 1942. His cadet class was the largest class in history to graduate after only six months of extensive pilot training. Bob was stationed in Oahu, Hawaii following graduation, where he served three tours of duty in the Pacific.
On January 26, 1944 Bob participated in the longest fighter escort mission ever flown in the central Pacific by American P-40s. Two wing fuel tanks were added to extend the P-40's range to provide air support for Mitchell B-25 Bombers returning from long range bombing missions. The Japanese Zeros did not expect American fighters to attack when they intercepted our returning bomber formation over the Marshall and Gilbert Islands. Nine of fifteen Zeros were shot down without a single American loss. Bob downed one of those Zeros. He was awarded the Air Medal with two oak leaf clusters.
When the US Marines began the battle for Iwo Jima in 1945, Bob's squadron of P-51s was among the first to land on captured Japanese runways. They flew missions in support of the Marine ground forces fighting to take Iwo Jima. Bob was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his efforts. He spent the remainder of his military career in Hilo, Hawaii as Commander of Hilo Airport on the island of Hawaii.
Bob and Louise K. Hay were married in Hilo, Hawaii on August 7, 1943. Their first child was born there during the war. Upon his discharge from the military in November of 1945, the couple moved to Colfax, WA. Bob joined his father in the insurance and real estate business becoming an insurance broker. The couple lived in Colfax for 54 years, where they raised three children, moving to Spokane in September of 1999. Bob was very active in the community joining Kiwanis, Elks, American Legion, Chamber of Commerce, and served on the City Park Board. He was a member of the Plymouth Congregational Church where he sang in the choir sharing his love of music.
Bob is survived by his wife of 69 years, Louise K. (Tweedie) Butler; a daughter, Anne Mabry, of Redondo Beach, CA; a son, Carl J. Butler, of Spokane, WA; twelve grandchildren and fifteen great-grandchildren. A daughter, Mary Louise Butler, and a son, Dwight Robert Butler, Jr., preceded him in death. A brother, Stewart Butler also preceded him in death.
We will always remember Bob for his engaging smile and positive outlook on life!
A memorial service will be held on Saturday, October 13, 2012 at the Riverview Terrace Chapel, 1801 East Upriver Drive, Spokane, WA at 2:00 PM for any and all who wish to attend.
Published in Spokesman-Review from Oct. 7 to Oct. 8, 2012