Chesterton Tribune

Community turns out to honor memory of Spc. James Butz

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Community members gathered to honor Spc. James A. Butz Sunday. 216 motorcycles (Above) joined in the cavalcade to bring Butz home from Afghanistan. He died trying to offer aid to injured comrades on September 28, 2011 in Helmand Province, Afghanistan. Local fire and police departments as well as emergency response vehicles, family and friends joined the two mile long procession which wound its way through Butz’s hometown of Porter, then through Chesterton (bottom) to White-Love Funeral home on 2nd St. Funeral services are Tuesday, October 11 at 11:00 a.m. at Bethlehem Lutheran Church. The family will receive friends today at the church, 2050 West 1100 North, Chesterton from 1-8 p.m.

(Additional photos are in today's printed Tribune.) (Tribune photos by Dana Gilbertson)

 

By KEVIN NEVERS

They came by the hundreds and hundreds, to line the streets of Duneland, to stand in silent grief, to salute the casket and honor the flag, as a Porter boy who died a man returned home on Saturday to be laid to rest.

Folks who a week ago had never heard of Spc. James A. Butz, U.S. Army, joined those who knew and loved him to bear witness to his sacrifice and heroism as a procession which stretched some two miles along Ind. 49 wound its way into and through the towns of Porter and Chesterton.

In that procession: Porter and Chesterton police officers and firefighters, Indiana State Police troopers, and motorcycle officers with the Porter County Sheriff’s Police and the Lake County Sheriff’s Police. Valparaiso Police and other local agencies assisted with traffic control.

In addition, 216 members of the motorcycle mounted Patriot Guard—originally organized to provide security at the funerals of fallen service members—thundered their respects.

Street Commissioner and CPD Reserve Officer John Schnadenberg—who with CPD Chief Dave Cincoski accompanied the Butz family to the Porter County Municipal Airport and back—told the Chesterton Tribune that he has never before seen this kind of outpouring from the community. “They were lined all the way down Ind. 49, holding flags,” he said. “It was very patriotic. It was a very humbling experience, very emotional.”

Beth Adkins, a Chesterton resident, watched the procession from her neighborhood in the Downtown. “When that first police car came down the street, you could have heard a pin drop,” she said. “It was that quiet, folks were that moved, you could have heard a pin drop. All of those people, a lot of children too, and no one said a word. We were standing on the street and it was like we were in church.”

Then the Patriot Guard followed, and as one person who asked not to be named told the Tribune, people used the rumble of its bikes as an opportunity to “cry and sniffle and wipe their eyes.”

Donna Simmers, also a Chesterton resident, was southbound on Ind. 49 and heading to Valparaiso when she saw the Patriot Guard roaring the other way and, like everybody else on the road with her at the time, stopped on the shoulder in respect. “It was very touching, very heart-warming to see the public support of Jim Butz and his family,” she said.

Spc. Butz, a combat medic with the 82nd Airborne Division, died on Sept. 28 in the Helmand Province in Afghanistan, after being hit by a blast from an improvised explosive device while rushing to the aid of two Marines hit in a previous blast. All three men perished.

Spc. Butz, 21, was a 2009 graduate of Chesterton High School, where he was highly respected for his work ethic as a football player and wrestler.

Funeral services, Pastor Jane Aicher officiating, are scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 2050 W. 1100N in Chesterton.

A full obituary appeared on the front page of Friday’s edition of the Chesterton Tribune.

 

 

 

Posted 10/10/2011