Jack Butcher was born in 1946 in Berwyn, Illinois. He was commissioned a 2d Lt in the U.S. Air Force through the Air Force ROTC program at the University of Michigan on May 13, 1969, and went on active duty beginning June 14, 1969. Lt Butcher next completed Undergraduate Pilot Training and was awarded his pilot wings at Webb AFB, Texas, in June 1970, and then completed OV-10 Bronco Combat Crew Training before deploying to Southeast Asia in February 1971. He served as an OV-10 pilot with the 20th Tactical Air Support Squadron at DaNang AB, South Vietnam, from February 1971 until he was forced to eject over Laos and was taken as a Prisoner of War on March 24, 1971. After spending 736 days in captivity, Capt Butcher was released during Operation Homecoming on March 28, 1973. During his time in captivity, he managed to escape twice; once for a few hours, and a second time for 10 days. He was briefly hospitalized to recover from his injuries at Wright Patterson AFB, Ohio, and then attended F-106 Delta Dart Combat Crew Training at Tyndall AFB, Florida, from December 1973 to July 1974. His next assignment was as an F-106 pilot with the 87th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at K.I. Sawyer AFB, Michigan, from July 1974 to February 1975, followed by Pilot Instructor Training at Randolph AFB, Texas, from February to August 1975. Maj Butcher served as an instructor pilot with the 3389th Flying Training Squadron at Webb AFB from August 1975 to January 1978, and then as an F-106 pilot, Weapons Training Officer, and Chief of Stan/Eval with the 318th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at McChord AFB, Washington, from January 1978 to July 1982. His next assignment was to Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, from August 1982 to June 1983, followed by F-15 Eagle conversion training at Luke AFB, Arizona, from June to September 1983. LtCol Butcher then served as an F-15 pilot with the 22nd Tactical Fighter Squadron at Bitburg AB, West Germany, from September 1983 to February 1986. His final assignment was as Executive Officer to the Commander of the Northwest Air Defense Sector at McChord AFB, Washington, from February 1986 until his retirement from the Air Force on July 1, 1989.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
During the Period 1 April 1971 to 10 April 1971: This officer distinguished himself by gallantry and intrepidity in action in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force while serving as a Prisoner of War in Southeast Asia. With profound courage and a strong conviction to the Code of Conduct, he escaped from an enemy prisoner of war camp, knowing that the odds for success were slight and that if recaptured he would receive torture and long periods in solitary confinement. The success of his escape was short lived, and he was recaptured and punished. Captain Butcher's heroic actions reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.