Deployed Guard unit honors Tuskegee Airman on 100th birthday

  • Published
  • By Capt. Joshua Sik,
  • 135th Expeditionary Sustainment Command

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – Sgt. Victor Butler, the last known surviving member of the Tuskegee Airmen, celebrates his 100th birthday May 21. His only request was for birthday cards, and the Alabama National Guard’s 135th Expeditionary Sustainment Command responded.

The 135th ESC, deployed to Kuwait as part of the 1st Theater Sustainment Command, sent “135 individually signed birthday cards from the Soldiers of the 135th ESC,” said Brig. Gen. Vickers, the unit’s commanding general. “We are indebted to [Butler] and all the Tuskegee Airmen.”

Butler was a mechanic for the Tuskegee Airmen and one of the many Black military pilots and Airmen who made history while fighting in World War II. On top of those sacrifices, the unit broke barriers and contributed to desegregating the U.S. military.

Soldiers of the 135th ESC were eager to be a part of celebrating Butler’s sacrifices and accomplishments.

“He paved the way,” said Sgt. 1st Class Willie Vandiver, one of the 135 Soldiers who sent cards. “If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t be here right now.”

While individual Soldiers of the 135th ESC wrote their special messages, others outside the unit were also eager to help. The American Red Cross of Camp Arifjan donated over 100 cards. And David Flietstra, a civilian working in Kuwait for the Defense Logistics Agency, asked to pay for the package when he heard what the 135th ESC was doing.

Butler said he intends to read every card. If you would like to send a birthday card to him, you can mail it to the following address:

Victor W. Butler
C/O Gary Butler
P.O. Box 3523
Cranston, RI 02910

The 135th ESC is serving as the operational command post for the 1st TSC in its support of Operation Inherent Resolve and Operation Spartan Shield.