ROCHESTER, NY, USA U.S. Army SSG, COMPANY A, 3D BATTALION, 69TH ARMOR, FORT STEWART, GA RAMADI, IRAQ 05/23/2007
Army Staff Sergeant Steve Butcher Jr. knew the meaning of love.
The former Penfield resident sacrificed his life to protect his family, his fellow soldiers and his country.
On Saturday, about 150 people gathered at New Covenant Christian Fellowship in Penfield to remember Staff Sergant Butcher, 27, who died on May 23, 2007, in Ramadi, Iraq. He and another soldier – Private First Class Daniel P. Cagle, 22, of Carson, California – were fatally wounded when an improvised explosive device detonated near their unit. Staff Sergeant Butcher, who joined the Army about five years ago, was on his third tour of duty in Iraq.
Friends and family members described Staff Sergeant Butcher, a 1997 graduate of Penfield High School, as a loyal, loving and caring man who led by example. As an infantry squad leader, he supervised 10 men in combat.
“My son often told me about his concern for his men,” his father Steve Butcher Sr. said during the service. “He told me he’d do anything to keep them safe – that he’d bend the rules to protect them.”
Jarrod Kunze, who served with Staff Sergeant Butcher on two tours, fought back tears as he recalled his friend’s ability to add humor to any situation. He described him as the “go-to guy” to settle debates, diffuse arguments and repair just about any broken item.
Michael Lee Oates, Commanding General for the 10th Mountain Division in Fort Drum, said Staff Sergeant Butcher was well-loved and well-respected and was known as a “true leader.”
“We aren’t told how many days we get to live, but we get to decide what to do with them,” Oates said. “I am humbled by his actions.”
Liza Voos shared several memories of her big brother – how he took her to his senior ball instead of his girlfriend and how, as a child, she often snuck into her brother’s room and begged him to read her a bedtime story and he’d always fabricate one especially for her.
“Steve was more than my brother, he was my best friend,” said sister Angela Butcher , who is 13 months younger than her brother was, and said the two of them were raised more like twins. “He wasn’t perfect, but he tried harder than any man I know.”
During the service, Oates presented Staff Sergeant Butcher’s parents, Steve Sr. and Dianna of Irondequoit, with a crisply folded American flag that had moments earlier adorned their son’s coffin. Oates also gave the family a Bronze Star and a Purple Heart, two awards that reflect Staff Sergeant Butcher’s actions in combat. He will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery.
“My son frequently referred to me as being his hero,” said Steve Butcher Sr. “But the truth is known by the whole country – he is the hero.”