James Michael Butler, 35, was an Army Reservist who had just reported to duty to Fort Hood on July 11 for four weeks of preparation before being sent to Afghanistan for a tour as a fixed-wing aircraft pilot. He had served three previous tours in either Iraq or Afghanistan as a Blackhawk helicopter pilot.
According to Killeen, Texas, media reports, a woman was driving down U.S. Business 190 near South Fort Hood Street about 4 a.m. Friday morning when she saw something in the road, tried to swerve and miss it, but couldn’t. It turned out to be Butler’s body, which state troopers say had already been run over by another car that fled the scene and is still being sought.
Texas Department of Public Safety spokesman D.L. Wilson told local media outlets that Butler was walking west along the highway when he was struck by an unidentified vehicle. As he lay on the pavement, he was struck a second time by the woman, who reported it to police. Butler was reportedly wearing light-colored jeans, a plaid shirt and sandals.
Butler’s body was sent to Ft. Sam Houston in San Antonio for an autopsy before being shipped to Pelham, Ala., to be buried. Southern Heritage Funeral Home in Pelham is in charge of arrangements, which had yet to be made at press time.
Butler, who was originally from Alabama, had lived in Villa Rica about two years and was working as a U.S. Air Marshal. While in Villa Rica, he became a Master Mason as part of Villa Rica Masonic Lodge No. 72 and had become very active in the lodge.
Fellow lodge member David Sullivan recalls one recent incident that he said epitomizes the character of Butler and how he conducted his life. As he and Butler were traveling down Highway 101 near Wesley Chapel United Methodist Church, they witnessed a traffic accident and Butler immediately took control of the scene by directing traffic and checking injuries of those involved until police and paramedics arrived.
“He was an extremely likable, very personable type of person,” said Sullivan. “He was always the first person to be there if someone needed help. He took every task on that anybody asked him to and just excelled at about everything he did.”