BUTLER, PHILLIP NEAL
Name: Phillip Neal Butler
Rank/Branch: O3/United States Navy
Unit: VA 22
Date of Birth: 11 August 1938
Home City of Record: Tulsa OK
Date of Loss: 20 April 1965
Country of Loss: North Vietnam
Loss Coordinates: 192000 N 1052700E
Status (in 1973): Returnee
Other Personnel in Incident: none
Source: Compiled by P.O.W. NETWORK March 1997 from one or more of the
following: raw data from U.S. Government agency sources, correspondence with
POW/MIA families, published sources, personal interviews.
REMARKS: 730212 RELEASED BY DRV
SOURCE: WE CAME HOME copyright 1977
Captain and Mrs. Frederic A Wyatt (USNR Ret), Barbara Powers Wyatt, Editor
P.O.W. Publications, 10250 Moorpark St., Toluca Lake, CA 91602
Text is reproduced as found in the original publication (including date and
UPDATE - 09/95 by the P.O.W. NETWORK, Skidmore, MO
PHILLIP N. BUTLER
Lieutenant Commander - United States Navy
Shot Down: April 20, 1965
Released: February 12, 1973
As I began my first morning of freedom, after seven years and ten months of
captivity, at 4:00 A.M. On 13 February 1973 at Clarke Air Base in the
Philippines, I sat on my clean white hospital bed and gazed out my window at
a stop light that was changing red and green.
I reflected on my past life. How fortunate you are, I thought. Tulsa,
Oklahoma, my home town, friends, family, 13 years of free public education,
four years of free college at the Naval Academy, a commission in the Navy,
pilot's wings, an opportunity to serve my country, and now - a stop light.
What does the stop light mean? It means that no other country in the world
would bother to place such a small safety device in a little used
intersection, and keep it going through the night, just because of the one
in a million chance that it might save a life at 4:00 A.M. No other country
in the world so highly prizes individual life - the dignity of man.
How fortunate you are - you American.
March 1997 Biography - Phillip Neal Butler, Ph.D.
I graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, class of 1961. Flew the A4C with
VA-22 aboard the USS Midway. I went down at night, over Vinh, on April 20,
1965 from malfunctioning VT fused bombs. Spent 4 days and nights attempting
to evade capture but was finally tracked down by two well-trained german
shepherd dogs. I was repatriated on February 12, 1973.
After spending 10 months in and out of Balboa Naval Hospital I got recurrent
in the A4 at Miramar N.A.S. In January of 1974 I began graduate school in
Social Psychology at the University of California at San Diego. Finished my
course requirements for a Ph.D. in June of 1976 and reported to the Navy
Human Resource Management Center, San Diego. I spent 3 years in this program
during which time I also did the field work for my dissertation. In June of
1979 I reported to the Naval Postgraduate School, Monterey, California for
an assignment on the faculty. Completed my dissertation and was awarded my
Ph.D. in June, 1981. Two weeks later I retired with 20 years and started my
own Organizational Development consulting business.
In 1978, at the 5th San Diego area POW reunion I met Chuck Baldock's little
sister, Barbara. We had our first official "date" a few months later at
President Nixon's house in San Clemente, where we were welcomed as part of
the 5th-anniversary national POW reunion. Barbara and I were married in July
I have been very fortunate since my return home. I have a wonderful marriage
and have experienced great success with my business. Barbara became my
Marketing Director in 1986 at the same time I began adding keynote speaking
to my repertoire of Organizational Development seminars and management
consulting. Barbara and I are also very active in our local community,
currently volunteering for numerous non-profit organizations because we
believe we get back more than we can ever give. I have also taken up the
piano and most recently my brother-in-law has gotten me hooked on golf.
My POW experience was incredibly valuable to me as a life-learning process.
It has enriched me immeasurably, though I would never recommend it to
others. I still get a kick out of a beautiful blue sky, the ocean,
mountains, flowers and even turning the knob on a door to walk through and
go anywhere I want. I learned the importance of community from our
experience, that people who work together can survive and succeed under even
the most powerful oppression and adversity. I also learned the importance of
love in overcoming hate, peace in overcoming conflict or war and respecting
all life as inherently important and worthy of preservation.
Phillip Butler retired from the United States Navy as a Commander. He and
his wife Barbara reside in California.
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