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Tuskegee Airman requests birthday cards for 100th birthday — ‘I’ll read every one of them’

Next month, Alabamians will have the opportunity to wish a happy 100th birthday to retired U.S. Army Sgt. Victor Butler, one of the oldest surviving Tuskegee Airmen.

The Rhode Island resident and World War II veteran was part of the legendary “Red Tails” who served in the 332nd Fighter Group for the then-U.S. Army Air Forces.

“At first, I was going to join the Canadian Air Force with a friend of mine, but after I had signed up, my mother and father wouldn’t approve of it,” Butler said in a sit-down interview with NBC 10 News. “So, I joined with the American Air Force.”

Butler described the calm he finds in puzzles, which he said he does “just to occupy the time.”

Proudly displayed throughout Butler’s home is a  collection of awards, coins and photographs documenting his World War II service.

The skilled mechanic enjoyed working on fighter and bomber aircraft at the Tuskegee Army Air Field while on duty. Away from the airfield, however, Butler experienced the difficulties of the Jim Crow South in 1940s Alabama.

“The airfield was very nice. It was the visit to the town that was bad,” he recalled. “Being in Tuskegee, Alabama, it wasn’t very acceptable to white people for black soldiers to be walking around.”

As valiant in service as the Tuskegee Airmen were, Butler and his fellow servicemen’s accomplishments did not end in combating the tyrannical ambitions of the Axis Powers. The group of black pilots and airmen played an instrumental role in ending segregation within the U.S. military.

Anyone that has lived a full century, and experienced as much life as Butler, is sure to have an abundance of wisdom. For Butler, the key to happiness is living a life of gratitude.

“Just enjoy life as it is. Be thankful,” he said. “I’m thankful that I have a nice wife, and a nice home to live in… There are so many people that have lost their home and I am very fortunate to have a nice home and wife and my family who come to visit me often.

Even though it will be his 100th birthday on May 24, to Butler, it will be “just another day.” He desires nothing for his birthday besides cards.

“I’ll read every one of them,” he said.

To wish Butler a happy birthday, cards may be sent to his mailing address:

Victor W. Butler

C/O Gary Butler

P.O. Box 3523

Cranston, Rhode Island 02910

Dylan Smith is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @DylanSmithAL