Father celebrates life of son killed in action 10 years ago - KCTV5

Father celebrates life of son killed in action 10 years ago in Iraq

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WELLSVILLE, KS (KCTV) -

Ten years ago a Kansas father got a knock on his door, and he knew when he saw the military chaplain he had lost his son. He also knew what he had to do next.

Jim Butler had promised his son if anything happened he would visit Iraq to honor him there as well as in America.

After the family laid 24-year-old Jake Butler to rest, his father began to plan his difficult trip to Iraq. His father made the trip to the very spot his son was killed.

Ten years later, he wants to make sure his son is not forgotten.

"They told us he was killed with a rocket-propelled grenade. We were told his body was non-viewable, partially viewable, all viewable," Jim Butler said.

Jake Butler's family said he joined the military to see the world and make a difference.

"When I got his autopsy pictures back, he actually had taken one shot. It hit him right here and exited right here. For a parent you need to know, or I did anyway, what happened, how it happened," Jim Butler said.

Long before his son was killed, Jim Butler made a promise to his son that he would visit Iraq should anything happen.

"I have always felt if a man makes a promises he needs to keep his promise. It doesn't matter who he makes it to or when he makes it. To me, it was Jake's last promise that I had actually made to him. In my heart, I was going to do whatever it took to," Jim Butler said.

He spent thousands of dollars to travel to the very spot where his son's humvee came under attack.

"It was almost like I was in my own little world, looking around seeing what he saw, smelling what he smelled and even walking the ground where he was at. It somewhat gave me a peaceful feeling is what it did," he said.

Ten years after he lost his son, Jim Butler wrote a book, titled Beyond Honor, that chronicles his journey through grief.

"I guess until you lose one of your own children you really can't walk the path that I walked," Jim Butler said.

While in Iraq, Jim Butler brought the CD they played at his son's funeral. He played the songs and then tossed the CD into the river near where his son was attacked.

He said it was his way of honoring his son in Iraq.

Last month marked 10 years since the war in Iraq began. A special effort is under way Monday in the metro to honor the servicemen and women who lost their lives.

In all, 4,487 U.S. service members have died while serving in Iraq. That includes 47 from Kansas and 89 from Missouri.

Six of the soldiers, who were there the day Jake Butler was killed, will honor him Monday at a ceremony celebrating his memory in Wellsville, KS.

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