The Commerce Journal

October 18, 2013

War and Memory Project continues lecture series with Arlen Butler

By Jordan Wright
The Commerce Journal

COMMERCE — The East Texas War and Memory Project continued its series of lectures by war veterans by hosting Private First Class Arlen Butler on the campus of Texas A&M University-Commerce.

Organized by members of the Honors College, The East Texas War and Memory Project’s goal is to preserve an oral history of those affected by war by sharing that history with the public. Butler spoke on Oct. 9 on the second floor of the Rayburn Student Center. From 3:15 to approximately 4:30 p.m., Butler discussed his various experiences during the war and even a few after returning home.

Butler served in the 23rd Infantry Division during World War II and was one of the soldiers who stormed Normandy and helped to liberate European POW camps. His commendations include the Purple Heart, the Bronze Star, the Victory Medal, and a Commemorative Medal from France.

Butler answered several questions in front of an audience, detailing many of his experiences in service, including an incident where he was injured.

“A couple of Germans came out when we were checking for booby traps about 25 or 30 feet from where I was,” Butler said. “It exploded and, when it exploded, I got hit on my right leg and my foot.”

Butler went on to recount to the audience, his experiences in recovery and return to duty, as well as his decision to help other veterans and his own view on how people perceive him to be a hero.

“I’m just another Joe,” Butler said. “But when a veteran comes to me telling me he’s got problems getting his compensation, I tell him who to go see, how to go about it and to not give up.”

Audience members were allowed to ask their own questions to Butler at 4:15, after which, they were allowed to engage with him personally, as well as partake in refreshments offered to all attendees.