ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. - Members of the APG community paid their respect to Officer Joseph Butler III, known as the “face of the security guards,” during a memorial ceremony at the Post Theater on May 4, 2023.
In addition to the 250 people in attendance, close to 300 people viewed the ceremony online and left heartfelt comments and reflections on the APG Garrison Facebook page. Many people said Butler’s enthusiastic “welcome to Team APG!” greeting and infectious smile at the gate gave them a positive start to their workday.
In addition to spreading cheer, Butler, an Army veteran, led by example by being the first employee to receive the COVID-19 vaccine on post, which was broadcasted on social media on Jan. 7, 2021. During the event, he said he considered APG his family, especially after the outpouring of support he received when his wife passed away.
‘A pillar of the APG community’
Police Chief Robert Frutchey served as the master of ceremonies. After the national anthem, the APG Installation Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Joshua Metz called Butler “a pillar of the APG community” during the invocation.
APG Garrison Commander Col. Johnny Casiano said Butler led with kindness. He described him as “jovial, a man of God and patriotic.” He praised Butler’s professionalism and a willingness to work hard.
“We have faith knowing Joseph would want us to celebrate his life, even during this time of severe loss,” he said.
Casiano challenged the audience to celebrate Butler’s legacy by spreading positivity through interactions with colleagues, friends and family.
I ask you, what kind of happiness do you bring to work?” he asked. “Let’s all learn from Joseph.”
Guard Chief Travis Budnick said when he started his job six months ago, he received a warm welcome to Team APG.
“[If you went to see] Joseph Butler, your day got better, real quick,” he said.
Budnick said Butler’s family, his community is here. He led the audience in a round of applause to celebrate Butler’s life and legacy.
“To Joseph Butler, home is not a place where you lay your head at night,” he said. “Home is Aberdeen Proving Ground.”
Guard Sgt. Michael Langston represented his family during the service. Over time they became great friends and would often get into lengthy discussions about religion, sports, politics and popular culture. Langston said Butler’s family preceded him in death, so the connections he made at work were significant to him.
“You all are his family,” he said.
Metz said he shared a connection of shared faith with Butler, as Butler was also part of the APG chapel community. He dedicated his life to service, he said.
“His life is the very picture of a life well lived,” he said.
The program concluded with a silent tribute, benediction, presentation of the flag, last roll call, honors and taps and a final salute. Attendees had the opportunity to leave reflections of Butler in a memory box.
Officer Joseph Butler III
Officer Joseph Butler III was born to Evelyn Tillman in North Carolina on February 28, 1956. There he was raised in the Baptist faith and became a true lover of God. After this, Butler moved to New York to live with his grandmother and eventually to California, where he enlisted in the U.S. Army to serve his country.
In the Army, Butler served variously as a 45K tank turret repairer, a 74D chemical operations specialist, and a 91F small arms repairer. His assignments include South Korea, Germany and Fort Polk, Louisiana. Butler’s military awards include the Army Commendation Medal, the Good Conduct Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, the NCO Professional Development Ribbon, the Army Service Ribbon and the Overseas Service Ribbon. Butler’s Army career concluded on APG, where he retired as a staff sergeant with 18 years of service.
After retirement, Butler joined the APG Security Guard Force, where his dedication was evident to all. When the Guard Force resumed responsibility for the access control points, Butler gained the attention of many with his exceptional attitude. Those lucky to enter a gate operated by Butler were greeted with an enthusiastic “good morning, sir or ma’am” or an “always nice to see yah” or even a “Team APG!”
Butler’s professionalism and personality proved the boost everyone needed to start their morning. So much so that if Butler weren’t seen on duty, the community would flood the Department of Operations with inquires of concern.
In 2021, Butler lost his wife, Su Ok Butler. In response, the community rallied to support him, showering him in heartfelt condolences. Despite the heartache he was experiencing, Butler’s attitude never wavered. After his loss, Butler proclaimed, “all he had left was his APG family.” In return, the Directorate of Operations and the community itself adopted Butler as their own.
In addition to his love for God, his wife and his job, Butler was known for his dedication to fitness and considered the gym his second home. He boxed in his youth and loved sports in general. Although he wasn’t a Maryland native, he was a huge fan of the Baltimore Ravens and Orioles.
After battling illness for several years, Butler was reunited with his wife on April 12. 2023. He will be greatly missed.
For more photos, visit Officer Joseph Butler III Memorial Service | Flickr