John Edward Butts was born during 1922 in Medina, New York. He enlisted in the New York Army National Guard on October 12, 1939 and was a rifleman with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment when his unit was federalized for service with the United States Army on October 10, 1940.
Butts was commissioned as an officer on November 29, 1942 and then served with Company E, 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment, 9th Infantry Division. The 9th was landed in Normandy on Utah Beach on June 10, 1944 – D-Day+4.
On three occasions – June 14, 16, and 23 – Butts suffered wounds that he refused immediate attention for to stay at the front of his platoon and in command of his soldiers under fire. On June 23, 1944, after being struck once, he kept advancing until receiving a fatal wound. Slightly more than one year later, he was posthumously decorated with our Nation’s highest honor.
*BUTTS, JOHN E.
Rank and organization: Second Lieutenant, U.S. Army, Co. E, 60th Infantry, 9th Infantry Division. Place and date: Normandy, France, 14, 16, and 23 June 1944. Entered service at: Buffalo, N.Y. G.O. No.: 58, 19 July 1945
Citation: Heroically led his platoon against the enemy in Normandy, France, on 14, 16, and 23 June 1944. Although painfully wounded on the 14th near Orglandes and again on the 16th while spearheading an attack to establish a bridgehead across the Douve River, he refused medical aid and remained with his platoon. A week later, near Flottemanville Hague, he led an assault on a tactically important and stubbornly defended hill studded with tanks, antitank guns, pillboxes, and machinegun emplacements, and protected by concentrated artillery and mortar fire. As the attack was launched, 2d Lt. Butts, at the head of his platoon, was critically wounded by German machinegun fire. Although weakened by his injuries, he rallied his men and directed 1 squad to make a flanking movement while he alone made a frontal assault to draw the hostile fire upon himself. Once more he was struck, but by grim determination and sheer courage continued to crawl ahead. When within 10 yards of his objective, he was killed by direct fire. By his superb courage, unflinching valor and inspiring actions, 2d Lt. Butts enabled his platoon to take a formidable strong point and contributed greatly to the success of his battalion’s mission.
Butts’ remains were repatriated to the United States and he was laid to rest in St. Mary’s Cemetery in Medina, NY.
The 9th Infantry Division was deactivated in 1991. The 2nd Battalion, 60th Infantry Regiment is presently part of the 193rd Infantry Brigade at Fort Jackson, Mississippi. The unit’s role is to prepare the soldiers of tomorrow with initial Basic Combat Training.