WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — This weekend, the National Guard named the Armed Forces Reserve Center off Carolina Beach Road after fallen soldier Sgt. Thomas J. Butler IV.
Butler was killed in Afghanistan less than a year ago after his patrol was attacked by a suicide bomber. Left behind is his legacy that will be honored through walls as strong as him for years to come.
“I told them that I might call once a day to hear my son’s name, since they have to answer the phone and say his name,” said Butler’s mother, Leslie. “They said it will be all right. I told them I would keep it to once a day.”
Butler’s family and friends shared stories about him at the ceremony.
“He was never too proud to bend to his knee for someone in need,” said Leslie Butler.
The stories brought on tears as everyone remembered not only the soldier who earned countless medals for his service, including the Bronze Star, the Purple Heart, and the Afghanistan Campaign Medal, but also the man who loved helping others and joking around with his friends.
“I said alright, tell us what you like about us Thomas,” said a fellow soldier and friend. “He started spitting out some stuff. He said, Snyder, you have pretty eyes, pretty teeth.”
The pain is still very real for those close to Butler.
“I don’t know who grieves more…me as his mom, Thomas as his dad, Adam as his brother, Holly as his soul mate, or his son little Thomas who will never have TJ’s arms around him.”
But they are happy his name, Sgt. Thomas J. Butler IV, will survive as long as the building stands.