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Butler, Smedley D.

Butler, Smedley D.

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Major General, USMC (Retired), (1881-1940)

Smedley Darlington Butler was born on 30 July 1881 in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Appointed from that same state in the U.S. Marine Corps as a Second Lieutenant in May 1898, he was assigned to USS New York and participated in the Spanish-American War. After briefly discharged, he returned to the Marines as a First Lieutenant in April 1899 and received orders to the Marine Battalion at Manila, Philippine Islands. In June 1900, during the China Relief Expedition, he participated in the Battle of Tientsin and was wounded. In July, Butler was promoted to Captain by Brevet Rank for his distinguished conduct in that battle. Returning to the U.S. in April 1901, he served at Marine Barracks, League Island, Philadelphia Navy Yard, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. After duty with the U.S. Atlantic Fleet, he reported in April 1904 on board USS Lancaster. For his next two tours, he served in the Philippines, first at the Marine Barracks, then with the First Brigade Marines. In November 1907, he had recruiting duty at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and was promoted to Major in May 1908.

In December 1909, Butler commanded the Third Marine Battalion at Camp Elliott, Panama Canal. After temporary duty in Nicaragua, he returned to Camp Elliott. On 22 April 1914, he participated as a Battalion Commander in the intervention at Vera Cruz, Mexico, leading his men with skill and courage. For his "distinguished conduct in battle" on this occasion, Butler was awarded the Medal of Honor. In December 1914, he reported to the First Brigade Marines at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but departed to participate in the Haitian Campaign. On 17 November 1915, he led Marines and sailors from USS Connecticut in a concentrated attack at Fort Riviere on the Caco bandits. Leading his men through a small opening on the fort's southern side, he organized an attack that eventually resulted in hand-to-hand combat to crush the resistance. For his "bravery and forceful leadership," Butler was awarded his second Medal of Honor. In August 1916, he was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel and became the Commandant of the Gendarmerie d' Haiti.

During World War I, Butler returned to the U.S and was promoted to Colonel in the Summer of 1918. He then commanded the Tenth and the Thirteenth Marine Regiments in France. In October, he was promoted to Brigadier General. In November 1919, he became Commanding General of the Marine Barracks at Quantico, Virginia. From January 1924, he was on a leave of absence, serving as Director of Public Safety for the City of Philadelphia. In February 1926, Butler returned to the U.S. Marine Corps and commanded U.S. Marine Corps Base, San Diego, California. Reporting overseas in March 1927 to China, he commanded Third Marine Brigade. In January 1929, he commanded the Marine Barracks at Quantico, Virginia. In November, Butler was promoted to Major General. After two years at Quantico, he retired in October 1931 and was placed on the retired list. Smedley D. Butler died on 21 June 1940 and is buried at Oakland Cemetery, West Chester, Pennsylvania.

USS Butler (DD-636, later DMS-29), 1942-1948, and Camp Smedley Butler Marine Corps Base at Okinawa, Japan were named in honor of Major General Butler.

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