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DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORY AND HERITAGE COMMAND
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Butler

Smedley D. Butler was born in West Chester, Pa., 30 July 1881 and was appointed a Lieutenant in the Marine Corps in 1898. During the Spanish-American War he served aboard the armored cruiser New York. He served in China during the Boxer Rebellion and was appointed Captain by brevet for distinguished conduct. In 1914 he received the Medal of Honor for his actions at Veracruz and in 1915 he received a second Medal of Honor for service in Haiti. Major General Butler received Distinguished Service Medals from both the Army and the Navy in recognition of his service in France during World War I. He retired from active duty 1 October 1931 and died at Philadelphia 21 June 1940.


(DD-636: dp. 1630; l. 348'2"; b. 36'1"; dr. 17'5"; s. 35 k.; cpl. 276; a. 4 5", 5 21" TT.; cl. Gleaves)


Butler (DD-636) was launched 12 February 1942 by Philadelphia Navy Yard; sponsored by Mrs. John Wehle, daughter of General Butler; and commissioned 15 August 1942, Lieutenant Commander M. D. Matthews in command.


After undergoing shakedown trials Butler engaged in escort work in the Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico. On 14 January 1943 she departed on a trans-Atlantic voyage to Casablanca and thence to Dakar, French West Africa. From there she escorted the two Free French vessels Richelieu and Montcalm to New York. After overhaul in New York and coastwise convoy escort work, she set sail for the Mediterranean 8 June. Following training exercises at Oran and Algiers, she proceed to Bizerte whence she departed in July for the Sicilian invasion (9 July-12 August). She took part in the pre-invasion bombardment of Gela and subsequently served on escort duty throughout the remainder of the operation. She then steamed for New York, arriving 22 August.


Butler was engaged in convoy work and overhaul until 5 May 1944 at which time she stood out for the Normandy invasion (6 June-15 July). She screened heavy units of the bombardment group and served at the inshore fire support station during this assault. Between 12 and 30 August she escorted British escort carriers taking part in the invasion of southern France. Shortly thereafter she returned to New York for overhaul.


After a convoy run to Marseilles in October, Butler returned to New York (27 October) for conversion to a highspeed minesweeper. Reclassified DMS-29 on 15 November, conversion was completed 21 December and she proceeded to Norfolk and joined Mine Squadron 20. On 3 January 1945 the ship weighted anchor for San Diego en route to Pearl Harbor. Upon completion of extensive training in the Hawaiian area, she sailed to Ulithi and then conducted a pre-invasion sweep around Okinawa. She continued screen and picket duty, splashing many planes, throughout the assault and occupation of Okinawa (24 March-25 May 1945). On 25 May bombs form the a suicide plane exploded under Butler's keel, killing nine men and blowing out steam lines and flooding the forward fire room causing the loss of all steam and electric power. West Virginia (BB-48) stood by Butler until power was regained and assisted in driving off two more Japanese planes.


The next day Butler proceeded to Kerama Retto for temporary repairs. She arrived in the United States 26 August and was decommissioned 8 November 1945. She was sold 10 January 1948.


Butler received the Navy Unit Commendation for her service in the Okinawa operation and four battle stars for her World War II service.


10 January 2006