Private First Class Arlen Butler, spoke at the East Texas War and Memory Project Lecture Series on October 9 in the Rayburn Student Center at Texas A&M University-Commerce.
A native of Quinlan, Texas, Butler joined the army in 1940, and completed basic training at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio. He was a member of the Military Police Platoon, 23rd Infantry Division during World War II. He fought on the beaches of Normandy and liberated POW camps in Europe. Butler received a Purple Heart, a Bronze Star, a Victory Medal, and a Commemorative Medal from France for his service.
Butler told of his experience fighting on Omaha Beach on D-Day, wading in water over his neck and stepping over dead bodies onshore. “Getting off a boat like that, you don’t know if you are going to be next or if you will lose the buddy right next to you,” Butler said. “There is no way to describe the feeling.”
He helps other veterans find information about getting compensation and other things. “I’m just a regular guy,” Butler said. “But anytime I can be of help to anyone involving the Veteran’s Association let me know.”
Student Moderator Courtney Crumpton, sophomore, conducted a mock interview with Butler onstage.
“Interviewing Mr. Butler was a very humbling experience,” Crumpton said. “He is always a pleasure to talk to, and I could listen to him tell stories about his service for hours on end. I’m delighted that he enjoyed his time with us last Wednesday, and I would love to have him visit the university again.”
The ETWMP Lecture Series events occur one Wednesday each month, where a veteran will talk who served in one of the following conflicts: World War II, the Korean War, the Cold War or the Vietnam War. Presentations range from a traditional lecture to a moderated interview, and those in attendance will have an opportunity to ask questions of each veteran.
The ETWMP is dedicated to recording oral histories and collecting artifacts illustrating veterans’ experiences in World War II, Korea, Cold War and Vietnam. For more information on the ETWMP, contact [email protected] or go to Facebook.com/WarAndMemory.