Panthers to honor fallen area soldier

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A soldier from southeastern North Carolina killed in Afghanistan more than three years ago is among the fallen service members to be honored by the Carolina Panthers this weekend.

The Panthers are taking part in the NFL’s Salute to Soldiers military recognition campaign when they host the Green Bay Packers Sunday. To honor the memory of those who died in service to our country, players will wear a decal with the initials of a fallen service member on their helmets.

The widow and parents of Sgt. T.J. Butler, who was killed by a suicide bomber in October 2012 just 11 days after deploying to Afghanistan, posted on Facebook this week that Butler will be among the servicemen honored at the Panthers-Packers game.

Butler grew up in Hampstead and graduated from Topsail High School before entering the Army. He left behind his wife and son, who was just seven months old when Butler was killed.

According to a news release from the Panthers about Sunday’s events, each player has received a bio and picture of the service member they will honor. During the game, the service members will be honored in video tribute, and their loved ones will be welcomed onto the field between the first and second quarters to receive a replica helmet with the decal, signed by their player. There’s no word yet which player will wear Butler’s initials.

In July 2013, Wilmington’s Armed Forces Reserve Center was renamed in Butler’s honor.

Categories: Local, New Hanover, Sports

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