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First Name: George

Last Name: Butler

Birthplace: Fort Benning, GA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Middle Name: Lee

Date of Birth: 17 June 1939

Date of Death: 04 January 2010

Rank: General

Years Served: 1961-1994
George Lee Butler

Graduate, U.S. Air Force Academy, Class of 1961

•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


George Lee Butler

General, U.S. Air Force

George Lee Butler was born on 17 June 1939 at Fort Benning, GA. He graduated in 1957 from Washington-Lee High School in Arlington, VA. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from the U.S. Air Force Academy and was commissioned in the U.S. Air Force in June 1961.

He received undergraduate pilot training at Williams AFB, AZ, followed by Basic Instructor School at Randolph AFB, TX. He then flew as an Instructor Pilot in T-33s and also served as an Academic Instructor at Craig AFB, AL, from March 1963 to December 1964. He completed Squadron Officer School in 1964.

Butler was selected for study in France as an Olmsted Scholar. He received French language training at the State Department's Foreign Services Institute, Arlington, VA, prior to attending the University of Paris where he earned a Master's degree in International Affairs in 1967. After graduation, he attended F-4 combat crew training school and was assigned in March 1968 to the 12th Tactical Fighter Wing, Cam Ranh Bay Air Base, South Vietnam.

From August 1968 to March 1969, he was Aide-de-Camp to the Commander of 7th Air Force, Tan Son Nhut Air Base, South Vietnam. Returning to the U.S. and the Air Force Academy, he served as an Instructor in the Political Science department, and as an Executive Officer and Air Officer Commanding in the Academy's military training department. He completed Air Command and Staff College in 1970.

In July 1971, Butler was assigned as Special Assistant to the Director, Office of Emergency Preparedness, Executive Office of the President, Washington, DC. He again returned to the Academy in January 1972, as an Assistant Professor in the Political Science Department. After completing combat crew training in October 1972, he was assigned as Chief Pilot of the 53rd Military Airlift Squadron, 63rd Military Airlift Wing, Norton AFB, CA.

He entered the Armed Forces Staff College in July 1973 and, after graduating in February 1974, was assigned as Air Operations Officer, International Relations Branch, Directorate of Plans, Strategic Arms Limitation Talks, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington, DC. Remaining at the Pentagon, he served from October 1974 to September 1975 as Executive Officer for the Special Assistant for Strategic Initiatives, Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff, Plans and Operations, Air Force Headquarters.

Other Pentagon assignments in the following years included Plans and Programs Officer, Strategy Development and Analysis, Directorate of Plans; Executive Director, Air Force Budget Issues Team; Executive Director, Airborne Warning and Control System task force; and Chief, Congressional and Joint Matters Division, Directorate of Concepts.

After B-52 combat crew training in May 1977, Butler was assigned to the 416th Bombardment Wing (Heavy), Griffiss AFB, NY, first as Assistant Deputy Commander for Operations and, later, as the Wing's Deputy Commander for Operations. In June 1979, he returned to Air Force Headquarters as Chief of a policy analysis group serving the Air Force Chief of Staff.

From March 1981 to June 1983, Butler was assigned as Vice Commander of the 320th Bombardment Wing (Heavy), Mather AFB, CA, and then as Wing Commander. He subsequently took Command of the 96th Bombardment Wing, Dyess AFB, TX, in June 1983. In July 1984, he was assigned to Headquarters Strategic Air Command, Offutt AFB, as Inspector General. Butler returned to Air Force Headquarters in August 1986 as Deputy Director of Operations and became Director in January 1987.

In May 1987, he became Vice Director for Strategic Plans and Policy, J-5, Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; in July 1989, he became the Director. On 25 January 1991, Butler was promoted to the rank of four-star General and became the last Commander-in-Chief, Strategic Air Command, (CINCSAC) and Director, Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff, with Headquarters at Offutt AFB. The Strategic Air Command was the nation's major nuclear deterrent force with bombers, tankers, reconnaissance aircraft and intercontinental ballistic missiles. The Joint Strategic Target Planning Staff coordinated U.S. nuclear war plans and developed the Single Integrated Operational Plan.

In June 1992, when Strategic Air Command was dis-established, Butler became Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Strategic Command (USCINCSTRAT).

General Butler retired from the Air Force on 28 February 1994. During his service, he became a Command Pilot with over 3,000 flying hours. He also holds Navigator and Parachutist ratings.

Medals and Awards

Defense Distinguished Service Medal

Air Force Distinguished Service Medal

Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster

Distinguished Flying Cross

Bronze Star Medal

Meritorious Service Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters

Air Medal with 2 Oak Leaf Clusters

Air Force Commendation Medal


Command Pilot Badge
Navigator Badge
Parachutist Badge
Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge

In Retirement

Following his retirement from the Air Force, Butler became active in the nuclear disarmament movement, and gave a speech in New Zealand, among other events, in so doing.

In a series of public statements, beginning with a major speech at the National Press Club in 1996, he called for the outright abolition of nuclear weapons. In 1999, he and his wife founded the Second Chance Foundation, dedicated to promoting responsible global reduction of nuclear dangers. He was awarded The 8th Annual Heinz Award for Public Policy for his work.

Honoree ID: 450   Created by: MHOH




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