John C. Butler

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John C. Butler (#) (1943-1970), former Navy vessel removed from the Navy Register and sunk in December 1971 at San Clemente Island after being used for target practice. The John C Butler now lays on a sandy bottom in Northwest Harbor at a depth of 100’.

The Battle of Midway was the turning point of World War II in the Pacific theater. It pitted a smaller American task force strengthened with superior military intelligence against one of the most potent naval forces ever assembled. The odds were overwhelmingly in favor of the Japanese. Among the brave navy and marine pilots who fought in that crucial battle was John C. Butler of Buckeye, Arizona.

Historically, U.S. Navy battleships are named after states; cruisers are named after cities; and destroyers and destroyer escorts are named after navy and marine heroes. Of the many pilots lost that day, only two pilots, one of them Ensign John C. Butler, were recommended to have destroyers named in their honor. In San Diego, a monument honors eight navy fighting ships, including the USS John C. Butler. The ships won glory for their role in the crucial Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1945. For Ensign Butler’s family, the monument also serves as his tombstone. They never recovered his body.