James H. Butler, Sr.
1 Lt
U. S. Army Air Forces
WWII US Military
Dates of Service: 1943 - 1946
B-17 pilot , 306th Bomb Group

He grew up on what some in his family called a plantation but was really, he says, "a typical run-down farm." James was born near Coushatta, Louisiana with a twin brother, John Warren. James' father was murdered in 1924. While his mother ran a country store, James held down a twenty-five-mile paper route. He graduated from high school in 1939, and then attended Louisiana Tech until 1942. While there he and John joined Army Aviation Cadet Program. James earned his wings in June of 1944, and was commissioned a second lieutenant while John became a flight officer. Sent to Thurleigh Field near Bedford, England, James served as a B-17 pilot in the 368th Bombardment Squadron, 306th Bombardment Group. John went to another unit. He flew his first of twenty-eight missions in January of 1945, quickly learning how to fly in flak and in fear. "You just hung in there. I guess youth is the only way you can do something like that," he says of combat He flew on missions to Berlin, Nuremberg, and Bremen. On one, he landed his plane safely although two bombs were stuck in the bomb bay. He made first lieutenant on his twentieth mission. After Germany surrendered, James flew on aerial photography missions in a B-17. He returned in 1946 and finished his degree two years later at Louisiana Tech in business administration. He worked for Arkansas Fuel Oil Company in the credit department, sold life insurance, and then spent forty years as a petroleum land man, a field he still enjoys.