CORRECTION Thursday, Feb. 21, 2013 at 8:17 p.m.: The correct spelling should be”Butzer,” not “Butzler”.
Don Butzer, of Catawba, Va., nominated his father, Donald C. Butzer, also of Catawba, for consideration to be named “Chevalier” by the French Legion of Honor for his participation in the D-Day invasion and liberation of France during World War II.
After a year-long application process, Donald Butzer received the letter of approval for the award on Nov. 23, 2012–his 93rd birthday.
He was “absolutely thrilled” to learn he had received the award, said son Don Butzer. Donald Butzer is a decorated World War II veteran, who was a part of the Army Air Corps and piloted an aerial gunner B-24 Liberator. He is credited with shooting down four enemy air crafts, according to his son. Donald Butzer entered the service in 1944; he flew a total of 31 combat missions, his first being on D-Day, June 6, 1944, according to his son.
The award was bestowed at the French Embassy in Washington, D.C. by the French Consul General on Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013.
“He was looking forward to making the trip,” Don Butzer said. Unfortunately, Donald Butzer’s health prevented him from attending; he is battling terminal cancer, according to Don Butzer, who accepted the award on his father’s behalf.
The award, which is not issued posthumously, is France’s highest honor and is equivalent to being knighted in England, according to Don Butzer. The award is bestowed to “U.S. veterans who risked their life during World War II to fight on French territory,” according to the website for The Legion d’Honneu for US veterans.
An additional fun fact: Donald Butzer played professional baseball for W.Va.’s Logan Indians, according to son Don Butzer. During his time with the team, he ended up playing ball right here in Salem. Little did he know he would return to live in the area at age 87!