Marine Maj. Gen. Richard Natonski presented the Bronze Star Medal with Combat
Distinguishing Device to 1st Lt. Alfred L. Butler IV, executive officer for
Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment outside the battalion's
command post on Camp Fallujah, Iraq, May 19, 2006. U.S. Marine Corps photo by
Cpl. Mark Sixbey
Darkhorse Marine Decorated for Valor
(Reprinted from Blackanthem Military News, June 2, 2006)
FALLUJAH, Iraq A Darkhorse Marine was decorated with the nation's
fourth highest award for valor by the 1st Marine Division commanding general
here, May 19.
U.S. Marine 1st Lt. Alfred L. Butler IV, Weapons Company executive officer,
3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, received the Bronze Star Medal with
Combat Distinguishing Device from Maj. Gen. Richard Natonski.
"I knew his father, and I think he's following in his footsteps," Natonski
said. "This is his third deployment to Iraq, and he's done a marvelous job
The 27-year-old from Jacksonville, N.C., earned the award for his actions
and leadership while commanding an 81 mm Mortar Platoon on Dec. 23, 2004,
during combat operations in Fallujah. He is currently on duty in Iraq with
Regimental Combat Team 5.
"It was one of those days when everyone ran out of ammo," said Butler, a
graduate of Western Carolina University. "We even used AK-47s."
According to the award citation, as insurgents ambushed his platoon, Butler
rushed to the attack where he found several men pinned under heavy automatic
weapons fire on a stairwell. He evacuated them from the house and learned
insurgents isolated additional men on the second floor. He quickly organized
an assault force and raced to an adjacent house under constant small arms
fire to recover the men.
Cpl. Justin Butler, a mortarman in the platoon, saw his platoon commander
from across the street while laying suppressive fire.
"When we were on the roof, he was the first one I saw standing up to see the
situation while everyone was getting shot at," said the 21-year-old from
Dyer, Ind. "It pumped everybody up that he would do that just to know
everything that's going on."
The platoon commander led his team as they cleared two buildings, jumping
from roof-to-roof to reach them. He shielded the bodies of the fallen
Marines when a grenade landed nearby with complete disregard for his own
safety, then threw two grenades into a room filled with insurgents.
While delivering cover fire, the lieutenant moved the men across to an
adjacent rooftop, personally evacuating a wounded Marine under constant
small arms fire and grenade attacks. His actions preserved the lives of the
He credited the decoration to the Marines under his command.
"I owe those Marines my life," he said. "The things they did that day are
the sort of things you read about in books. What they do for each other and
what they sacrifice for each other makes you not want to leave the Marine
Corps. They hold up the tradition of 3/5 and live up to the legacy."
Alfred Butler III, was a Marine major who was killed in Beirut when his son
was only 5 years old. The lieutenant said most of what he knows of his
father he learned from Marines who served with him.
"It's nice that he (Natonski) knew my father and served with him," he said.
"My knowledge of him as a person is through people like General Natonski and
what they say about him and the man he was. From what I understand, he was a
great man, great Marine, husband and father. If I can be half of that, I
think I'll be fine."
By Cpl. Mark Sixbey
1st Marine Division