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Family gives diary, dog tag to Medina from Medal of Honor recipient

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 May 2015 at 12:00 am

Photos by Tom Rivers

MEDINA – John Butts and his family treasure the dog tag and diary from John E. Butts, the only Medal of Honor recipient in Medina’s history.

However, the Butts family didn’t want to just store the diary and dog tag in a drawer or in a display at one of the relative’s. The family decided to give the identification and diary to the Medina community.

The top photo shows the dog tag with the name Anna Butts, the mother of the soldier. The dog tag was covered in blood, and that blood corroded the metal, causing it to split in half, Butts family members said today.

John Butts, nephew to Medina’s famed soldier from World War II, presented the dog tag and diary to Steve Johnson, commander of the American Legion, during a Memorial Day service today at State Street Park.

Steve Johnson, right, accepts the dog tag and diary from John Butts, nephew of the Medal of Honor recipient from Medina.

Johnson then presented the dog tag and diary to Catherine Cooper, director of Lee-Whedon Memorial Library, which already has a display about Butts with his medals, Medal of Honor citation and photographs.

“They are better served here than being locked in a closet or drawer,” said John Butts, who travelled to Medina from Portland, Maine. “It is more proper here. Medina is the origin.”

Butts and 10 other family members have been in Medina the past few days, learning more about John E. Butts.

The village named a park for Butts and the American Legion post also bears his name. He died in World War II in Normandy. Butts had already been wounded when he led a charge to distract the enemy. He was fatally wounded, but his battalion was able to advance.

Butts had five brothers serve in the war. The family is now spread around the country. They met for a reunion in Medina the past few days with Butts family members traveling from Portland, Maine; San Diego, Calif; Grand Rapids, Mich.; Rock Hill, South Carolina; and Virginia.

The Butts family is pictured with Catherine Cooper, back right, following the Memorial Day service today at State Street Park.

The family came together to give the treasured items from John E. Butts to Medina.

“I’m very appreciative and proud of Medina,” John Butts told a crowd gathered at State Street Park. “I’m very proud of the town of Medina and the kindness and generosity of the people.”

Butts said the big crowds of people that turned out for Memorial Day is unusual in America today. He said his uncle was like many from the community who heeded the call to serve the country.

The family started talking more in the past year when Tim Butts was contacted by a documentary filmmaker about John E. Butts. The family worked to assemble information. They discussed the diary and the dog tag and where those artifacts should go. They decided they wanted back in the community where Butts grew up.

This diary, held by Catherine Cooper, details the boot camp experiences by John E. Butts.

Catherine Cooper, the library director and also Ridgeway town historian, thanked the family for their generosity. She said the diary, with the family’s blessing, would be reproduced for the public.

Doug Butts, a family member from Grand Rapids, Mich., thanked the community for keeping up the park, Legion Post and grave for John E. Butts. Doug Butts said the family is impressed by the small-town charm in Medina.

“It’s a beautiful town with a Rockwellian Main Street,” he said.