Last Known Activity
Varden Ione Butler was born on August 13, 1921 in Salt Lake City, Utah. (One sources states Logan,Utah.) His parents were Rufus E. and Eliza May Clayton Butler.
The US Census 1930 has the family in Trenton, Utah while the US Census 1940 shows Salt Lake City.
Butler was drafted, and inducted into military service on October 8, 1942 at Salt Lake City. His enlistment records state he had completed 4 years of high school, and was working as a filling station attendant. He was assigned to the Army Air Forces, trained as an aerial gunner, then assigned to crew training.
This crew went overseas to England in September, 1943. Ground training and familiarization flights followed, and they were dispatched on their first combat mission on October 2, 1943. They flew a recorded 25 missions.
On March 6, 1944, they were part of a formation to bomb electrical facilities around Berlin, Germany. Over the target, the aircraft was attacked by several German fighters. The nose was shot away, other damage was inflicted, and the navigator fell from the nose without a parachute. Survivors state Butler was killed in position, firing at the attacking aircraft.
The aircraft crashed near Haseleunne, Germany. Two additional men died in the crash, a total of four killed in action. Six were taken prisoner. No records show burial, retrieval, or movement of the dead, but TSgt Butler lies in the Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium in Plot C, Row 5, Grave 22.
US Census 1930
US Census 1940
NARA Enlistment Records
Salt Lake City, (UT) Tribune, issue of April 23, 1944, pg 17
Utah Military Records
Sgt Varden I. Butler was acting as the ball turret gunner on B-17G #42-38059, not named, assigned to the 418th Bomb Squadron.
Missing Air Crew Report 3027 contains details of the downing. Crew rosters, personnel files, and memos show the crew consisted of:
Cpt David L. Miner
2 Lt George E. Kinsella c-p
2 Lt George R. Jones nav
2 Lt Earl L. Richardson bomb
Sgt Albert Zikorus eng/tt gun
Sgt William C. Libbert r/o
Sgt Varden I. Butler btg
Sgt Sam Pry rwg
Sgt Leonard D. Malcuit lwg
Sgt June E. Roberson tail gun
Ranks and grades as of mission date.
Lt Kinsella (Reilly crew) was replacing Lt D. Berthlof (original crew) who had sinusitis. Kinsella had flown 25 missions with Reilly's crew.
NOTE: Utah Military Records states Butler was awarded the Air Medal with 6 Oak Leaf Clusters, but 100th Bomb Group records and other sources only show three.