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My name is Janeen Mc Murphy, I own Mc Murphy Investigations located in the Sunset District of San Francisco.  Six months ago I was hired by Ms. Renee Butler to research the family history of her father, Staff Sargent James Randall Butler, a member of the 101st Airborne Division, 305th Infantry Battalion, Long Range RECON who has been officially listed as “Missing in Action, Presumed Dead” in the Republic of South Vietnam for the past eighteen years.

I tried to explain to Ms. Butler that we didn’t specialize in this area. I also told her it would be very expensive.  I was extremely surprised when Ms. Butler took $10,000 in cash from a designer bag she was carrying and put it on my desk saying. “There will be more when you need it, will this be enough to get started? “Yes, I'm sure it will be” I replied.  We spent the next few hours discussing everything she knew about her family.  It wasn't much, just enough to get me headed in the right direction. Now after six months of extensive research, I am sending Ms. Butler my first complete report.

                                  From the Offices of: 

                            Janeen Mc Murphy  Investigations

                        Sunset District, San Francisco, California

Dear Ms. Butler,

As of this date, I’ve managed to document the following information from court records, Butler family papers and personal interviews of living family members and friends of the family.  I hope you find this information satisfactory.

The Butler Family History

Addie Mae Stoner 1725 - 1768

Addie Mae was the third child of poor Welsh farmers. Little is known about her except that records show she sailed aboard  the merchant vessel “Bristol Prize” a captured French frigate,

from Bristol, England in May of 1730  bound the English colonies in what was to be latter called “South Carolina.”  To pay for her passage, Addie Mae had agreed to be an indentured servant to

James Rutherford Butler, a wealthy plantation owner for a period of not less than five years.  It is often the case that indentured servants (one step up from slavery) never where able to repay the cost of passage for various reasons (lodging, food, clothing etc.).

Wilda Arlene Stoner 1749 - 1799

Birth records in the township of Brevard, So. Carolina show Wilda Arlene was borne to Addie Mae Stoner on August 3, 1749 - no father of record..  Family gossip has it that James Rutherford Butler is the father but no proof exists.  Papers found amongst the Butler Estate show that a Wilda “Billie” Stoner was employed as (an indentured) servant to the Butler household for more than twenty five years until her death from smallpox at age 50.  A very old woman for those times.

She survived two husbands.  Robert Smith a local gun smith, and later a Leopold Blankenship, an officer in 10th So.Carolina Mounted Infantry Regiment.  Both men are on record as having fought with the Revolutionary Army and were killed    Birth records show the birth of only one child, a female, Alice Mae.

Family gossip is that Cpt. Leopold Blankenship bought a rifle made by Robert Smith at the beginning of the revolutionary war and became friendly with both Robert and Wilda.  It was believed that the young Captain was secretly in love with the young and beautiful wife of the gun smith. Robert and Wilda had only been married a bit mor than a year when a British raiding party broke into Smith’s gun shop, killed him, stole all his weapons and burned down his shop.

Wilda          married Leopold after just a few short months of Robert’s death by the hands of the British.

Cpt. Blakenship was killed at the first battle of Murphysboro, GA.  1779. - Military records show that the captain was defending  the retreat of several families from the advancing British Army.  Out numbered 10 to 1 he and thirty men of the 10th Mounted Infantry Regiment  held off the

British till the all civilians and made their escape.  Out of ammunition, the men of the 10th fought hand to hand until not a man was left alive.  Witnesses said that the captain was among the last to die. Wilda was one of the lucky civilians to escape the British.  Pregnant and widowed, Wilda made her way back to the Butler plantation.

Alice Mae Stoner-Butler  1780 - 1830

Alice Mae is the first woman in the Butler family history that much is known about.  At the death of Alice Mae’s paternal grandfather Col. Trent James Blakenship, Alice Mae inherits a small fortune and is able to buy her freedom from the Butler family estate.  At the age of 14 she attends the only all girl college in the South and graduates at the top of her class in the Arts.  In a some what strange turn of events the Butler family falls into economic ruin.  Alice Mae returns to Brevard township, marries the youngest son of Howard Rutherford Butler,  Randall James Butler.  With her inherited wealth and education, Alice Mae is able to restore the Butler wealth and position in Brevard  township.  ,

Alice Mae and Randall had six children (two died in infancy).  Judith Lynn, Barbara Mae, Reginald Wayne and James Randall Butler Jr.

Judith Lynn - is listed as having died in a Cholera outbreak, was never married, no children. Barbara Mae - Died in childbirth

Reginald Wayne -  Believed lost at sea while serving as First Officer, aboard  the merchant vessel “America’s Promise” which sank off the shores of French Indochina.

Of all the Butler children, the most reliable information found concerns James Randall Butler Jr. And was found in the records archives of the US Army Military Academy, West Point, Virginia.

James Randall Butler Jr. was accepted into the United States Army Military Academy, West Point, Virginia in 1852.  James Randall excelled in military strategy and civil engineering and graduated in the top five of his class.  Commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant and at the onset of the Civil War, James Randall did the unthinkable, he set free all the slaves of the Butler Plantation and then went to fight on the side of the North.  After the war between the North and South, James returned to the family home and was instrumental in the rebuilding of South Carolina’s railroad systems.  He took the family from an agriculture based business to one of manufacturing and mining. 

In 1867, James married  Juliette Hannah Penn, a young woman fifteen years his junior (not an uncommon thing of those times).  Juliette was beautiful, intelligent and she added grace to the Butler house.  James and Juliette had five children all of whom survived to adulthood.

For the next seventy five years the Butler family names expands and survives. It is at this point that I have found records indicating the most direct family genealogy to your father. Bessie Hannah Penn { Maiden name)

Bessie Hannah Penn Butler

(a very distant relative of the Pennsylvania Penn family)

Bessie was a very pretty young girl, she was one of seven children born into poverty during the “Great Depression.”  Bessie’s father “Buford Trent Butler” had worked in one of the local open pit coal mines and was killed in a steam engine explosion when she was just four years old.  With a death benefit of $2000.00 given to Bessie’s mother Hanna by the coal mining company her husband had worked

for, the family hitched a ride in a truck with several other families and headed for California. In June of 1937.  This would be your fathers great grandmother.

Bessie married and divorced  a Los Angeles police officer. And then surprisingly, married her late husbands bother Leroy “Roy” Franklin Butler when his wife died from cancer. Roy Butler had two daughters by his first wife.  Roy and Bessie Butler also had one son. George Penn Butler, who is your grandfather. 

George Penn Butler, grew up in central Los Angeles, California.  He didn’t graduate high school and had a long list of petty criminal offenses.  Marriage records show that he married Donna Louise Smith in a civil ceremony in 1948. 

Birth records indicate that James Randall Butler was born prematurely on September 25th 1949 in Ontario, California. He weighed 3 pounds 3 ounces.  Unfortunately, Donna Louise died during childbirth. 

Los Angeles City records show that George Penn Butler died while your father was in Vietnam.  He was found dead on his kitchen floor from acute liver failure.  I am sorry to report that your fathers father was a hopeless alcoholic.

Now we come to your Father, James Randall Butler.  James Randall was primarily raised by his fathers mother Bessie and her two daughters in Whittier, California until his grandmothers death in 1960.  We have found that James Randall went to five elementary schools, three junior high schools and one high school.

We have interviewed his only surviving aunt a Mrs. Archibald Below, who now lives in Sacramento, California.  She indicated to us that James Randall James or “JR” as they called him for short was passed around like a “used suitcase” by family members.

School records show that he was a fast learner, good in sports and enjoyed art and theater (Drama).  JR lettered in track in his first and only year of high school.

At the age of seventeen your father enlisted in the US Army October 3rd, 1966.  JR went to “Basic Infantry Training” at Ft. Ord, California.  He was awarded the “Expert” medal for marksmanship and promoted to Private First Class (PFC) upon graduation.

JR continued his military training at Ft. Ord by attending the “Advanced Infantry Training” course.  He graduated 1st in his class and as a result was promoted to Corporal (E-4)..

Just before graduation, JR requested to attend “Airborne Jump School” training at Ft. Benning, Georgia.  It was during “Jump School” that JR requested to interviewed for “Ranger” training at Ft. Gordon, GA. 

Ranger Cadre Instructors evaluation and performance records indicate that JR displayed natural leadership ability and a gift for “Map Reading” and “Land Navigation”.  JR graduated 3rd in his class and was promoted to the rank of Sargent (E-5).  His entire Ranger class was immediately sent to S. Vietnam, while SGT. “JR” Butler was assigned to the 3rd Armored Division, 12th CAV RECON, Headquarters Troop, W. Germany.  It seems that in the military you have to be at least eighteen to be sent to a combat zone.

While stationed in W. Germany, JR continued to train in advanced tactics, escape and evasion and counter insurgency.  In an interview with Sargent Major Hartman (retired), he stated that “JR” took to the military like it was his family. 

On September 25th, 1967 (his 18th birthday) JR reenlisted for additional four years in the US Army and requested to be reassigned to duty in S. Vietnam.  The request was immediately approved.  JR was given a months leave for reenlisting and an additional month for being reassigned to a “Combat Zone”.  JR spent almost two months touring Europe before reporting back to duty at the”Oakland Reception Center, Oakland, CA.” the central processing point in the States for US Army personnel being sent to South Vietnam.

From here we know that your father departed the United Stated on December 11th, 1967 for South Vietnam.  He was immediately assigned to the 101st  Airmobile Division, 306th Infantry Battalion, Fox Company Long Range Recon. 

Records from your father’s 201 (Military Personnel) File. Show he was awarded the Army Commendation Medal w/Valor, the Bronze Star w/Valor, the “Order of the Purple Heart” and most significantly the Silver Star w/Valor.  He was promoted to Staff Sargent (E-6).  The youngest soldier in his Battalions history to ever be promoted at the age of nineteen. On the 23rd of October, 1969 after almost twenty months of duty in the Republic of South Vietnam, SSG “JR” Butler was reported as “Missing in Action, Presumed Dead.  I don’t have many details concerning your fathers disappearance.  The mission he was on is still classified as “TOP SECRET” even after all these years.

Ms. Butler, if have any further need of my assistance I will be happy to assist in any way possible.


Janeen McMurphy

McMurphy Investigations
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