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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A Wilmington soldier killed serving his country came home today. Sgt. T.J. Butler died during a suicide bombing attack last week in Afghanistan.

Supporters lined the streets to welcome him home.

“A young man got killed fighting for us,” supporter Daphne Rivenbark said.

Holding American flags, several people waited for Sgt. Butler Wednesday morning as his flag-draped casket arrived at Wilmington International Airport. The supporters say they decided it was necessary to come show their appreciation for Butler’s sacrifice.

“A lot of us, including myself, take for granted every day that these boys are over there fighting for our freedom, and freedom is not for free,” Rivenbark said.

With flags held high and motorcycle engines blaring, they escorted Butler to Andrews Mortuary on Market Street.

“He gave his life so that we can have the freedoms that we have today, and that’s the ultimate sacrifice,” veteran Scott Diamond said.

Supporters say they hope even more people come out to show their appreciation for Butler at his viewing and funeral this week.

“Soldiers like Sgt. Butler, who gave his life, actually knew that while he was over there he’s actually over there protecting us, and I think all of us as a community are thinking about that at one time collectively as we sit in his service should think about that,” Diamond said.

Turner Rogers, 16, says he understands the risks of serving his country, but he plans to fight for our freedom anyway.

“It’s definitely a possibility that it could happen to me or any of my friends that are currently serving right now, but as for me joining, it doesn’t weigh really heavily,” Rogers said.

Butler’s visitation is tomorrow from 6 until 9 p.m. at Andrews Mortuary on Market Street. His funeral is Friday at 11 a.m. at First Baptist Church in Wilmington.

Supporters are planning a human wall of appreciation tomorrow for the viewing and Friday on Market Street during the funeral. Everyone is invited to line the streets for the silent show of support. Click here for more information.

Comment on this Story

  • Dennis Mauger

    As a former Marine Sgt. I have lost fellow Marines to combat. Please know my prayers are with your family. Thank you for your valiant service on the part of all of America.RIP.

  • Guest11111

    Thank You Sgt. T.J. Butler! You will always be a HERO!!!

  • picklelily

    God Bless TJ Butler and his family. Thank you for giving your life to protect the freedom of others. Thank you to those planning to be a “human chain” to protect his family and ensure that TJ’s service is conducted with the honor and dignity so deserved.

  • Kyndal

    To the family of this brave American Soldier and brave American Hero, I just want to tell you that I am so sorry for your loss, I can’t begin to imagine what you must be going through right now, please know that you have my deepest condolences. Sgt. Butlers family, I just want to “Thank you for your brave Heroes wonderful service to our country, and for his ultimate sacrifice, our country will never forget your brave loved one or his service to our country. I salute your brave Soldier. Again Sgt. Butler family, on behalf of a grateful nation please accept my deepest condolences. You and your family will be in my thoughts and prayer. Love, support and prayers,


  • Susan Riggs

    Like so many in our area, our hearts are heavy thinking of our fallen soldier our HERO , TJ Butler.
    Growing up I was always taught to respect our military and that if not for these young men and women we would worry everyday about our safety.
    My dad was a veteran of the Korean War and was my hero!
    To the Butler Family, friends and his fellow soldiers you will be in my thoughts and prayers. Please stay strong and know that this community and people all around the world are praying for you as well.
    God Bless you all.

  • TonyaB

    God Bless you and your family. Thank you from my family to yours for your sacrifice. Prayers to your wife, son and family.

  • Sandy Bitter

    Our prayers go out to to Sgt Butler and his family. Thank you for your service to our country. May you rest in peace.


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