Employee Spotlight: John Butler

John Butler

employee spotlight: john butler

Aaron Pylinski | Community Writer
John Butler is a Marine – a Vietnam veteran that committed 22 years of his life to the Corps. He continues to serve new generations of Marines today with MCCS, and living by the mantra of “Once a Marine, always a Marine.”

Tell me about your time in service as a Marine.

I enlisted in the Marine Corps in December 1959, I spent my first tour of duty in Okinawa after boot camp. I spent 14 months in Okinawa and after Okinawa was transferred to Camp Pendleton, California. I spent about two years there, and that's where I was discharged. I had a break in my service.

I got out for two years and when I came back my first tour of duty was here in Iwakuni, Japan. Out of all out of my 22 years in the military, I spent about eight years here in Iwakuni. I know this area pretty well. The first time I went to Vietnam, it was from here, and that was in 1965.

I spent about six months in Da Nang. My second rotation to Vietnam was from 1966 to 1967 which was also in Da Nang. My MOS was 1391, which is a petroleum or bulk fueler.

When I left the Marine Corps after 22 years, I retired as a Gunnery Sergeant. And, looking back, I feel the Marine traditions were most important to me. The best part of my time in the Marine Corps was my first tour in Okinawa. I felt like everyone really gelled together tight. Next to that, my time in Iwakuni was exciting, too. To be here for a while as a Marine and then come back to this place that has changed a lot since the sixties.

Some of the best years of my life were spent in the Marine Corps. There’s that old saying, “Once a Marine, always a Marine.” I just want to be around the Marines as much as possible, and I think I've been pretty lucky. I was in the Marine Corps for 22 years, and now I've been around Marines for another 30 years.

What USMC traditions are most important to you?

Having that comradeship is most important. Being with your brothers, your fellow Marines.

How important is it to have traditions in the Marine Corps?

It means a lot to me. It's like a brotherhood. If you're a Marine, you're always a Marine. You'll see another marine and you know you have that bond.

Tell me about your most memorable Marine Corps Ball Experience.

I’ve been to three Marine Corps Balls. The first Ball I attended was when I was on recruiting duty in Rochester, New York. It was a small unit, so everyone gelled together; there were only about 50 of us from the different districts around the area. This was sometime around 1975.

Most of us there served in Vietnam. It was just a regular Marine Corps Ball. Everyone coming together, having drinks, and having fun. Most of us hadn’t seen each other for over six months, so we were just happy to chat with each other.

What does it mean for you to have served so many years in the Marine Corps and now continue your service through MCCS?

To me, it means that I feel like I am still a part of the Marine Corps. Right. A lot of people get out of the Marine Corps and they a move away from it into the civilian life. In my case, I’ve always been connected to the Corps. Ever since I retired in 1985, I've worked here on this installation. I’ve been here working for over 30 years now.

Tell me about the leadership that helped shape you as a Marine.

The leadership in the Marine Corps at the time when I was in, somebody would take you by the hand, show you the job, and show you what they wanted you to do. They wouldn’t just leave you to do the job. My leaders would give me personal instruction on how to do the job they wanted me to do - a hands-on type of thing - and then let me go do my job. During my first duty station in Okinawa, there was a Sergeant Garcia. He was strict but fair. He would always show people what to do in the Marine Corps; he would show you what being a Marine stood for. He would reward you if you were doing something right, and also teach you the Marine regulations and punish you if you did something wrong.


How do you feel that you've taken that leadership and mentoring out of the Marine Corps and into your position here at MCCS?

The one thing that I learned from my leaders and leadership time in the Marine Corps was to set the example. I work with my subordinates and show them how it’s done, and I’m not afraid to get my hands dirty in the process. I was always taught that if you want people to follow you, you have to be able to go out and get done what needs to get done.

Tell me about the team that you work with here at MCCS.

The team I work with is a great team. My supervisor, Ms. Anita is a great person.

What message do you have for Marines serving today?

Try it and do your best at any job that you are assigned to. Sometimes you’re not always going to get all the information or help you need to get the job done. Do what you can to get the information and help you need and then get the job done right.