Brig. Gen. Chester J. Butcher
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FORT MYERS, FL. - Chester John Butcher, 91, passed away November 15, 2013. He was born January 4, 1922 in Lafayette, Louisiana to the late Lawrence and Belle (Hotard) Butcher. In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by his daughter, Judy; and brothers, Warren and Matt.
Brig. Gen. Chester J. Butcher was deputy commander of the Fifth Allied Tactical Air Force, Vicenza, Italy, which is a subordinate command of Allied Air Forces Southern Europe.
General Butcher was born at Lafayette, La., in 1922, where he graduated from Cathedral High School in 1938. He attended the University of Southwestern Louisiana for a year before entering the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, N.Y. While attending the academy he completed flight training, in 1942, and graduated in January 1943 with a bachelor of science degree and commission as second lieutenant. He also has a master of science degree in aeronautical engineering from Princeton University and a master of business administration degree from The George Washington University, and is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program, Harvard Business School.
During World War II, he was assigned to the 355th Fighter Group in England as flight commander and operations officer, and flew P-47 and P-51 aircraft. He was shot down in a P-51 while strafing German airfields in Southern France and spent a year and a half in German hospitals and prisoner-of-war camps. He was released in April 1945 and went to Shaw Field, S.C., as squadron commander.
In 1946 he attended the Command and General Staff School, Fort Leavenworth, Kan., and entered Princeton University for a year. He then was assigned as chief of the Fighter Test Section at the Air Proving Ground Center, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.
General Butcher was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force in January 1951 where he served as chief, Fighter Branch, Directorate of Research and Development. As an additional duty, he was a White House aide under the administrations of presidents Truman and Eisenhower. In September 1954 he was assigned to Air Defense Command headquarters at Ent Air Force Base, Colo., where he served as chief, Weapons Division, Plans and Requirements, Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations.
He returned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force in 1959 where he became executive officer to the assistant secretary of the Air Force for research and development and later was military assistant to the undersecretary of the Air Force. He attended the Industrial College of the Armed Forces for a year and then returned to be assigned successively as chief of the Air Defense, Strategic, and Space divisions, deputy chief of staff for research and development.
From December 1965 to April 1968, General Butcher was assigned as commander of the 3560th Pilot Training Wing, Webb Air Force Base, Texas. He again returned to Washington, D.C., where he served as deputy director for concepts and operational readiness, Defense Communications Planning Group in the Defense Communications Agency.
General Butcher assumed command of Task Force Alpha, Nakhon Phanom Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, in June 1969. As commander, he was responsible for planning and directing the application of a wide variety of airpower resources in support of United States objectives in Southeast Asia.
In August 1970 he assumed duties as deputy commander of the Fifth Allied Tactical Air Force, a subordinate Command of Allied Air Forces Southern Europe.
His military decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit with two oak leaf clusters, Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal with nine oak leaf clusters, Meritorious Service Medal, Air Force Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, and Purple Heart with oak leaf cluster. He is a command pilot.
He was promoted to the grade of brigadier general effective May 1, 1968, with date of rank April 30, 1968.
Upon retirement from the USAF in 1974, Chester and his family moved to Fort Myers, Florida. He was member of the Araba Shriners and the ROJ (Royal Order of Jesters). He loved to entertain friends and family, dance and golf. He was a member of the Cape Coral Country Club for many years.
Left to cherish his memory are his wife of 58 years, Harriett; son, Bruce and his wife Mary of Fort Myers, Florida; brothers, Tom and Daniel "Booney" Butcher; sister, Ruth Bowen all of Louisiana; granddaughters, Cathryn and Haydn Butcher.
There will be a Celebration of Life on Friday at 1:00 PM at Fort Myers Memorial Gardens Funeral Home, 1589 Colonial Blvd., Fort Myers, Florida 33907. Interment service with full military honors will follow in Fort Myers Memorial Gardens Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be made in his honor to the Shriner's Hospital for Children at www.shrinershospitalforchildren.org or the Humane Society at www.gulfcoasthumanesociety.org. Memories and condolences may be left at www.fortmyersmemorial.com.
Fort Myers Memorial Gardens Funeral Home and Cemetery
1589 Colonial Boulevard
Fort Myers , FL 33907
Published in the The Advertiser on Nov. 20, 2013