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Merle BUTLER, 85, of Benton, died June 6, 2009, at his home.

Services will be held 11 a.m. Thursday, June 11, at Watson-Armstrong Funeral Home, 205 W. Monroe St., Mount Ayr. The Rev. Joyce SMITH will officiate. Burial will be in Benton Cemetery with military rites by Ringgold Post No. 172. Open visitation will be noon to 8 p.m. Wednesday, with the family present 6 to 8 p.m. at the funeral home. Burial is in the Benton Cemetery. A memorial fund will be established.


January 22, 1924 June 6, 2009

American Flag.jpg Leland Merle BUTLER was born January 22, 1924 and died June 6, 2009, the 65th anniversary of D-Day. He was 85 years old.

Merle was the fifth child of LaVantia Ellen DILLE and Floyd Jefferson BUTLER. His brothers were Homer, Hollis, Marvin, and Charles. He had one younger sister, Marjorie. Merle graduated from Benton High School in 1941 at the age of 17.

Merle lived in Benton, Ringgold County, Iowa all of his life, except for the time he spent in the army. He followed three older brothers, Hollis, Marvin and Charles, registered with the selective service and was inducted into the United States Army on March 19, 1943 at the age of 19. Merle entered active duty on March 26, 1943 at Camp Dodge, Iowa. He remained on extended active service until his honorable discharge on October 31, 1945. Merle was a member of Ringgold Post 172 of the American Legion and American Ex-POWs.

Merle was first stationed in the Aleutian Islands. He then served his country in two overseas tours in the European, African and Middle Eastern Theatre during the periods of August 31, 1943 to June 19, 1944 and from October 22, 1944 until May 13, 1945. He was a member of Cannon-Co. in the 422d Infantry. Merle was a certified sharp shooter with the M1 Rifle and believed he would have been promoted higher than private first class if he had not been captured by the Germans on December 16, 1944 in the Ardennes Forest, near the German/Belgium border, in the German Offensive known in the U. S. Forces Journals as the Battle of the Bulge.

Merle and other prisoners were directed by the Germans in a 10-14 day forced march from the Belgium Bulge to Stalag IV-B, a POW camp located near the town of Mulhberg, east of Leipzig, Germany, where they were deloused. Merle recalled that during the march they sustained an Allied air attack near a German training camp on his 21st birthday, January 22, 1945. Stalag IV-B was a transit camp for newly captured prisoners that around 6,500 Americans passed through on their way to work camps. One of the stops during the march was the City of Koblenz. The Germans billeted the POWs in a three-story stone building. One night when the building was bombed all the windows were blown out. This was the event that triggered a life-long ear condition and Merle's eventual hearing loss.

Merle spent most of his time as a POW in a stockade at a stove factory making wood or coal-burning stoves. He and the other POWs worked in the factory in the daytime and if the Allies bombed the railroad, they were forced to repair the railroad tracks at night. They were given one potato and one turnip per day to eat.

His mother first received a telegram reporting him as missing in action and then later as a prisoner of war. In a V-Mail that Merle sent to his mother in April 1945, he wrote "Well the Yanks liberated us a few days ago and I am on my way home."

Leland Merle BUTLER and Dolores Jean HERRINGTON were married in Bedford, Taylor County, Iowa on January 11, 1949. Richard H. and Sarah Maxine CAMPBELL witnessed the ceremony. Merle and Dee raised three children: James Leland (Smokey), Vickie (Sue) and Anthony Lynn (Tony).

Merle worked locally for the Chicago, Burlington and Quincy Railroad for a short time. He then went into business in Mount Ayr as an owner/operator of SWEENEY & BUTLER with his partner and brother-in-law, Russell SWEENEY. For 36 years they operated a salvage yard, bought and sold iron and other metals and provided welding and automotive repair services. During this time, they never had words over anything, which speaks highly of the character of both men.

Merle was a professional trapper. He trapped every season for a little over 70 years. He started trapping with his brother Hollis during the season he turned 13. He set his last trap in the fall of 2007 with best friend and trapping partner, his son Tony. Merle was also known for growing tomatoes and he and Tony have gardened together since 2005.

During their marriage, Merle and Dee enjoyed dancing to the big band sound and country and western, and they often went to local dances. After Dee passed away September 15, 2004, Merle and his daughter, Vickie, enjoyed going to dances at the American Legion in Mount Ayr and the Eagles Club in Creston.

Merle was very proud of his son, James, and his abilities in the building and construction trades, farming and especially his career with Longfellow Drilling as an expert driller.

In addition to his wife, Dee, Merle is preceded in death by his parents, in-laws Marion and Ruth Jacobs HERRINGTON, Paul DINKEL, Dorothy ROUTH, and Rita PIERCE, brothers Homer and wife Esta HACKER BUTLER, Hollis and wife Katie BOWEN BUTLER, Marvin BUTLER, Charles and wife Lucille DILLENBURG BUTLER, sister Marjorie and husband Russell SWEENEY, brother-in-law David HERRINGTON, sisters-in-law Jean BOWEN HERRINGTON (James) and Helen TURNBULL HERRINGTON (Max), and nephews Hal BUTLER (Hollis and Katie), Steve BUTLER (Charles and Lucille), Patrick BUTLER (Marvin and Carol Lou), and Phillip BUTLER (Homer and Esta).

Leland Merle BUTLER is survived by his children James BUTLER and Rhonda COOPER of Kent, Iowa, Vickie and husband Robert PIERCE of Denver, Colorado, and Anthony BUTLER of Benton; grandchildren (James and Kathy ROUTH BUTLER): Jason and wife Melissa HAYES BUTLER of Creston, Iowa, Jennifer and husband James TULL and great grandson Blake BUTLER of Diagonal, Iowa, and Joni and husband Jeremy GILLAM, great grandson Gavin and great granddaughter Haylee GILLAM of Creston, Iowa.

Merle is also survived by in-laws J. B. ROUTH, Melvin ADAMS, Kathryn ADAMS, and Frank PIERCE; sisters-in-law Carol Lou Horning (Marvin) Port Huron, Michigan, Mary Ann Herrington Matthews and husband Don of Baytown, Texas, and Theresa HERRINGTON (David) of Des Moines, Iowa; brothers-in-law Max HERRINGTON of Atlantic, Iowa, James HERRINGTON and wife Rosemary of Marion, Iowa, and Darwin HARTMAN of Baytown, Texas; nieces and nephews Michael BUTLER (Marvin and Carol Lou) of Port Huron, Michigan; Hollis and Katie BUTLER Family: Joyce (Hal) and Ray BELLVILLE of Chickashee, Oklahoma, Stanley BUTLER and Brenda of Des Moines, Iowa, Joyce and Dan COX of Melrose, Iowa, Jean and Al BEADEL of Parker, Arizona, Holly and Randy HOGUE of Mount Ayr, Iowa; Randy (Max) and Jennifer HERRINGTON of Clarinda, Iowa; Steve (Max) HERRINGTON and Denise of Atlantic Iowa; Connie HERRINGTON (James) of Harlan, Iowa, Pamela HERRINGTON (James) and Roger RUST of Harlan, Iowa, Regina HERRINGTON (David) and Randy FRAHM of Newton, Iowa, Angela HERRINGTON (David) of Des Moines, Iowa, and Monty HARTMAN (Mary Ann) of Baytown, Texas; many great nieces, great nephews, friends and neighbors.

To submit your Ringgold County obituaries, contact Sharon R. Becker at
Please include the word "Ringgold" in the subject line. Thank you.

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