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William Ross Butz

Vancouver, Washington

December 12, 1950

Age Military Rank Unit/Location
18 Army Pfc

 

 PFC Butz patriotically joined the US Army at age 17 in 1949. After arriving at the “Inlet of the Chosin’ Reservoir”, Korea, and at age 18 , he was Killed In Action on 12 December 1950 while assigned to ‘K’ Company, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Division as a Combat Light Infantryman. Due to combat circumstances and heavy casualties loss, many soldiers remains had to be collected over a lengthy period of time. PFC Butz remains were discovered in 1954 at which time they were sent to JPAC – Hawaii for identification. During this period of time until recently he was personally classified as MIA (Missing In Action and Presumed/Declared Dead). On 8 June 2016, PFC Butz was fully identified and scheduled for Repatriation to his family and home town of Vancouver, WA. During his honorable military service, PFC Butz received the following awards/decorations: Combat Infantryman Badge, Korean Service Medal, National Defense Service Medal ; Republic of Korea Presidential Uni t Citation; Republic of Korea War Service Medal; United National Service Medal; Purple Heart and others.

William R. Butz (1932 - 2016)
Obituary

Butz, William R. 18 Oct. 28, 1932 Nov. 30, 1950 U.S. Army Pfc. William R. Butz, 18, passed away approximately Nov. 30, 1950, while bravely serving his country during the Korean War. William was one of many unidentified soldiers who died at the inlet near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. His remains were finally identified in April of 2016, and he will be returned to his place of final rest with his family in Vancouver. William was born Oct. 28, 1932, in Glendive, Mont., to Leeomer and Zella Butz. In 1943, William moved to the Heights in Vancouver. At the age of 17, William joined the U.S. Army by fibbing about his age, stating that he was born in 1931 instead of 1932. Shortly after turning 18, as a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, while under heavy attack by enemy forces, William was killed. He was reported MIA once his Division was back in communication on December 12, 1950. In 1954, the United Nations and communist forces exchanged the remains of war dead in Operation Glory. William, along with many other soldiers, was brought back for interment and eventual identification at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. William remained a KIA/MIA for 65 years. William is survived by his sister, Betty (Gary) Hein; and many nieces and nephews, including Chrissy Hein, Tom Bleth, Donita Kessler and Sally Jo Hernandez. He was preceded in death by his parents, Leeomer and Zella Butz; and siblings, Glen Butz of Montana, Donald Butz of Illinois, Bernice Bleth of Washington, Virginia Mason of Montana and Marjorie Finnel of Washington. The public is invited to pay final respects to William from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, at the Vancouver Funeral Chapel, 110 E. 12th St., Vancouver, WA 98660. A graveside service and full military honors will be held 11 a.m., Friday, Aug. 12, 2016, at Evergreen Memorial Gardens, 1101 N.E. 112th Ave., Vancouver, WA 98684. Please share expressions of sympathy at www.Vancouver FuneralChapel.net
Published in The Oregonian from Aug. 8 to Aug. 10, 2016

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August 9, 2016

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August 12, 2016

In Memory of
PFC William Ross Butz
October 28, 1932 - December 12, 1950
Obituary
Army Pfc. William R. Butz, 18, passed away approximately November 30, 1950, while bravely serving his country during the Korean War. William was one of many unidentified soldiers who died at the "inlet" near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. His remains were finally identified April 2016, and he will be returned to his place of final rest with his family in Vancouver, Washington.

William was born October 28, 1932 in Glendive, Montana to Leeomer and Zella Butz. In 1943, William moved to the Heights in Vancouver. At the age of 17, he joined the army by fibbing about his age, stating that he was born in 1931 instead of 1932. Shortly after turning 18, as a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, while under heavy attack by enemy forces, William was killed. He was reported MIA once his Division was back in communication on December 12, 1950. In 1954, the United Nations and communist forces exchanged the remains of war dead in "Operation Glory". William, along with many other soldiers, was brought back for interment and eventual identification at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii. William remained a KIA/MIA for 65 years. 

William is survived by his sister, Betty (Gary) Hein; and many nieces and nephews, including Chrissy Hein, Tom Bleth, Donita Kessler and Sally Jo Hernandez. He is preceded in death by his parents, Leeomer and Zella Butz; and siblings, Glen Butz of MT, Donald Butz of IL, Bernice Bleth of WA, Virginia Mason of MT and Marjorie Finnel of WA. 

The public is invited to pay final respects to William from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm, Wednesday and Thursday at the Vancouver Funeral Chapel, 110 E. 12th St., Vancouver, Washington 98660. A graveside service and full military honors will be held 11:00 am, Friday, August 12th at Evergreen Memorial Gardens, 1101 NE 112th Ave., Vancouver, Washington 98684. 

Arrangements under the direction of Vancouver Funeral Chapel, Vancouver, WA.
News Releases
Soldier Missing From Korean War Accounted For (Butz)
16-057 | August 05, 2016

The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.
Army Pfc. William R. Butz, 19, of Glendive, Montana, will be buried August 12 in Vancouver, Washington. On Dec. 12, 1950, Butz, a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, was declared missing in action after his unit was heavily attacked by enemy forces in an area known as the “inlet,” near the vicinity of the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea. Due to a prolonged lack of information regarding his status, a military review board amended his status to deceased in 1953.
In 1954, United Nations and communist forces exchanged the remains of war dead in what came to be called “Operation Glory.” All remains recovered in Operation Glory were turned over to the Army’s Central Identification Unit for analysis. The remains they were unable to identify were interred as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii, known as the “Punchbowl.”
In 1999, due to advances in technology, the Department of Defense began to re-examine records and concluded that the possibility for identification of some of these unknowns now existed. The remains designated X-15726 were exhumed on Dec. 7, 2015, so further analysis could be conducted.
In the identification of Butz’ remains, scientists from DPAA used dental, anthropological and chest radiograph comparison analysis, which matched his records, as well as circumstantial evidence.
Today, 7,802 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using advances in technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials or recovered by American teams.
From The Columbian columbian.com 08/07/16

Korean War soldier MIA coming home
Service with honors set for Vancouver man killed in 1950


By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter
Published: August 7, 2016, 6:05 AM

RIDGEFIELD — Sixty-five years after he died in North Korea, Billy Butz is finally coming home.

“He’s been MIA all this time,” said Gary Hein, the soldier’s brother-in-law.

The 18-year-old Vancouver man was killed in 1950 during fighting around the Chosin Reservoir, and he was listed as missing in action — MIA.

As the Heins would learn, the remains of their soldier had been in American hands since 1954, but were designated only as X-15726.

The Heins knew that Butz was among the missing service personnel the Department of Defense had been hoping to identify.

“I provided DNA,” said Betty Hein, but testing didn’t produce any answers about her brother.

Then on Friday, the Department of Defense announced that investigators had identified the remains of Pfc. William R. Butz.

The Ridgefield couple were notified of the identification in April, so Friday’s news didn’t take them by surprise.

“They asked us how we wanted to do everything,” Gary Hein said.

The remains of Pfc. Butz will arrive on Tuesday and will be taken to Vancouver Funeral Chapel.

There will be a grave-side service with full military honors at 11 a.m. on Friday at Evergreen Memorial Gardens, in the Arlington West section.

There were seven children in her family, Betty Hein said, but Billy was the one she was closest to.

“We were together all the time,” Betty, 85, said Friday afternoon. “We were the closest in age.”

Gary Hein met Betty in 1965, so he never knew Billy. But as an Army veteran himself, Gary always wondered what had happened to Betty’s brother.

“He was trained at the same place I was, Fort Ord.”

According to the news release, Butz was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. They were holding an area known as the inlet, near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea.

“The first attack was on Nov. 27,” Gary Hein said, and he figures Butz would have been killed on Nov. 28, 29 or 30. “I’ve wondered how far he made it.”

Butz was reported as missing in action on Dec. 12. There was a lag because U.S. forces “had to fight all the way to the coast,” Gary Hein said.

A military review board amended his status to deceased in 1953, according to the news release from the POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

A year later, the two sides exchanged the remains of war dead. Remains of U.S. troops were turned over to an Army identification unit. Unidentified remains were buried as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii, known as the Punchbowl.

In 1999, with updated technology, investigators began to take another look at some of the unknowns. The remains designated X-15726 were exhumed on Dec. 7, 2015, for further analysis.

Scientists used dental records and chest X-rays that had been taken in March 1950 to identify Butz, then notified the soldier’s family.

“I didn’t know his remains were in Hawaii until April,” Gary Hein said. “I thought he’d be somewhere around Chosin.”

From The Columbian columbian.com 08/09/16

Vancouver soldier finally returns home from war
Remains of man declared missing in action in Korean War in 1950 escorted home


By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter
Published: August 9, 2016, 6:28 PM

When Billy Butz decided 66 years ago to join the Army, he asked his older sister for a favor. At 17, Billy was not old enough to enlist without parental approval.

So he lied about his age. He also had Betty forge their mother’s name on a note, just in case he needed some documentation.

“It’s what he wanted,” the soldier’s sister, now Betty Hein, said Tuesday.

Butz was killed in the Korean War, and the family never saw him again. Butz was declared missing in action on Dec. 12, 1950.

But on Tuesday afternoon, Betty was sitting a few feet from her brother’s casket.

The remains of U.S. Army Pfc. William R. Butz were returned home to Vancouver after spending decades in a grave for an unknown soldier. Local Patriot Guard Riders escorted the casket from Portland International Airport to Vancouver Funeral Chapel.

Butz will be buried with full military honors at 11 a.m. Friday at Evergreen Memorial Gardens, 1101 N.E. 112th Ave., Vancouver, in the Arlington West section.

The public is invited to attend the graveside service.

Gary Hein and Betty met in 1965, so he never knew Billy. But as a veteran of the U.S. Army’s 10th Mountain Division, Gary was very interested in the fate of his brother-in-law.

“Before I showed up, the family tried to find out what happened, but all they knew was Dec. 12,” he said.

Betty provided military officials with a DNA sample, but test results were inconclusive. That’s not unexpected, said Staff Sgt. Kristen Duus, a spokeswoman for the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

For DNA testing, “a son or daughter is good,” Duus said. “A sister or brother might be much less definitive.”

In Butz’s case, investigators were able to use dental records and chest X-rays to confirm the soldier’s identity. They notified the Ridgefield couple in April.

“That’s when I started waking up in the middle of the night, thinking about it,” Gary said.

The POW/MIA agency provided a booklet that documented Butz’s case, starting with the battle in which he died. In November 1950, Butz was a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. His unit was attacked by Red Chinese forces in an area known as the inlet, near the Chosin Reservoir, North Korea. In 1953, he was declared dead.

In 1954, after hostilities had ceased, United Nations and communist forces exchanged the remains of war dead. American remains recovered in what was called Operation Glory were turned over to the Army’s Central Identification Unit. Unidentified remains were buried as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii.

In 1999, advances in technology led officials to re-examine some cases. The remains designated X-15726 were exhumed on Dec. 7, 2015, for further analysis. It was William Butz.

The booklet includes photographs of Butz’s remains, showing a fairly complete skeleton. The listed cause of death was projectile trauma.

Gary flipped through the booklet and found photographs illustrating what that meant. Butz’s skull showed evidence of two wounds — a bullet hole near his right ear and the spot where a shell fragment hit the back of his head.

“Either one would have killed him instantaneously,” Gary Hein said.

Butz’s Army records include a couple potential points of confusion. Last week’s news release said that Butz was from Glendive, Mont.

Betty explained that she and her six siblings were born on a homestead about 20 miles from Glendive. There was no running water or electricity. One of her brothers built a wooden flume to bring water from a spring to the house; for a refrigerator, they dug a cave and stocked it with ice from a nearby river. They moved to Vancouver in 1943, as many families did, looking for better prospects.

And then there was date of birth listed for Butz: Oct. 28, 1931.

“He lied about his age,” reminded Gary Hein. Butz actually was born on Oct. 28, 1932.

The recruiter never questioned it, so Butz didn’t have to show the permission note that Betty had written.

“That was his back-up plan,” Gary said. “He probably had it in his back pocket.”

Butz took part in two major Korean War campaigns before actually turning 18 on Oct. 28, 1950.

“That was about a month before he was killed,” Gary Hein noted. “He wasn’t 18 very long.”
From The Oregonian oregonlive.com 08/08/16

Korean War soldier's remains returning home to Washington

By Talia Richman | The Oregonian/OregonLive 
on August 08, 2016 at 4:26 PM, updated August 09, 2016 at 9:21 AM

In 1950, Billy Butz left Vancouver to fight in the Korean War. Now, about 65 years later, his remains are coming home.

Butz was 18 years old when he was killed near the Chosin Reservoir in one of the war's deadliest battles. The military listed him as missing in action until 1953, when a review board changed his status to deceased. Throughout that time – and for decades after – his body was never identified. 

While his sister Betty Hein has long known her brother would never return, she didn't give up hope that one day his remains would be found and buried.

Then, in April, the Department of Defense called Hein and her husband with a surprise. Remains that had been listed for decades as those of unidentified soldier X-15726 actually belonged to Pfc. William R. Butz.

Butz's remains will arrive in Washington on Tuesday and be taken to Vancouver Funeral Chapel. A military funeral will be held Friday at Evergreen Memorial Gardens in Vancouver.

"I'm just glad that he's coming back," Hein, 85, said. "I'm glad that we can get this over with."

Butz's remains had come back to the United States in 1954, when the two sides exchanged remains of the war dead. Along with other unidentified bodies, he was interred at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii, according to a news release.

Making use of technological advancements, the defense department began additional efforts to identify bodies in 1999. The remains designated X-15726 were exhumed on Dec. 7, 2015.

Scientists used dental records and chest X-rays to determine the remains belonged to Butz. About 7,800 Americans who fought in the Korean War are still unaccounted for, the release states.

"The government and the military have bent over backwards to get this resolved and I really appreciate that," said Gary Hein, Butz's brother-in-law.

He never knew Butz. But as a veteran himself, he said, he has always felt a connection.

"This is closing up a lot of things for us," he said.

And he knows it means a lot to his wife. Butz was one of seven siblings, but he and Betty were especially close. They lived in Glendive, Montana, as children and often "ran all over the hills together," she said.

Butz lied about his age in order to join the army, and became a member of Company K, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division at age 17.

Vancouver Funeral Chapel Director Leigh Mullen said Friday's service is a "special occasion to be able to bring someone home who died so long ago and bury him with his family."

"For them to get him back is important," Mullen said, "and it's important for us to give him the military honors that he earned for his sacrifices."

– Talia Richman

From The Columbian columbian.com 06/12/16

MIA soldier laid to rest after long journey home
Pfc. William Butz buried in Vancouver, 66 years after his death in Korean War


By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter
Published: August 12, 2016, 8:21 PM

The first burial for Pfc. William Butz was 66 years ago, in a hasty grave on the Korean battlefield where he died; he would be listed as an MIA — missing in action.

In the mid-1950s, his recovered remains were buried in an American military cemetery in Hawaii, where the grave was marked only as X-15726.

On Friday, the Vancouver soldier was laid to rest again. This time, he was remembered by his family, honored by his community and saluted by his comrades in arms.

“It’s great. It’s been a long, long haul,” Betty Hein, the soldier’s sister, said after the graveside service.

“It’s joyous to have him home, to be fortunate to be one of the families to have this closure,” said niece Donita Kessler.

Lying about his age, Butz was only 17 when he enlisted. Butz was barely a month past his 18th birthday in November 1950 when an American force pushed into North Korea. The Chinese Communist army pushed back, resulting in fierce fighting near the Chosin Reservoir.

Butz was one of thousands of Korean War MIAs until April, when the U.S. military’s POW/MIA Accounting Agency notified Betty and Gary Hein that Butz’s remains had been positively identified.

A booklet that was part of the notification process explained the sequence of events. In 1954, after a cease-fire, the two sides exchanged the remains of war dead. They included the remains of a soldier — a fairly complete skeleton — that had been uncovered in a one-person grave, according to the booklet.

Remains of U.S. troops were turned over to an Army identification unit. Unidentified remains were buried as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Hawaii, known as the Punchbowl.

In 1999, with updated technology, investigators began to take another look at some of the unknowns. The remains designated X-15726 were exhumed on Dec. 7, 2015, for further analysis.

Scientists used dental records and chest X-rays that had been taken in March 1950 to identify Butz; officials notified the soldier’s family in April so they could start thinking about arrangements. Butz’s remains were transported to Vancouver earlier this week.

Friday’s service for Butz drew dozens of community members with their own military backgrounds, including Korean War veterans.

“We’re glad to have him home,” said Jerry Keesee, one of the founders of the Richard L. Quatier Chapter of the Korean War Veterans Association of Southwest Washington.

Local veteran Dan Tarbell has a particular interest in supporting families of those who are missing in action. He’s the national POW/MIA director for the 40 et 8 veterans’ organization.

“To me, that was heart-warming: final closure,” Tarbell said. But there still are about 7,800 Korean War MIAs, he said. “My heart goes out to those families.”

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