Procession honors Ind. soldier killed in Afghanistan

October 12, 2011 5:53:06 AM PDT
A soldier from northwest Indiana is being remembered after he was killed in Afghanistan last month.

Army specialist Jim Butz, 21, of Chesterton was killed when he rushed to help two wounded soldiers in Afghanistan.

Butz was remembered Tuesday morning at the Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Chesterton, Indiana. He was killed in Afghanistan on September 28th.

Karen Stapay stood outside the church, showing her support for the young soldier who made the ultimate sacrifice for the U.S.

"I needed to pay my respects and show my thanks also to his family - they raised a hero," said Stapay. "He is a brave man."

Three Chinook helicopters flew over the church towards the end of the service.

Butz, a combat medic, rushed to the assistance of two wounded soldiers and was killed by an improvised explosive device (IED).

"There was two of his fellow servicemen that were injured, and without hesitation, Jim rushed to their aid and happened to catch an IED himself," said Ron Coleman, state captain of the Indiana Patriot Guard. "He was an unselfish guy."

The procession went through the town until it reached its final destination, Chesterton Cemetery. The procession was escorted by more than 100 members of the Patriot Guard.

On Tuesday, many Chesterton residents paid their respects for one of their own who lost his life in battle.

"I am hurt," said resident Chad Schmidt. "I have a son the same age as this boy here."

The town also supported the family when his body arrived at the Porter County airport in Valparaiso Saturday morning.

"The community has been just outstanding to us - we're going to miss our son a lot, but it's heartwarming to know that he was appreciated for what he did," said Butz's father, John Butz.

Tuesday afternoon outside the cemetery, some could not hold back their emotions.

"My heart just goes out to the whole family - it's horrible just get us out of there," said Chesterton resident Barbara Gilbertson. "There is just too much of this and it really hit close to home."

Butz was deployed to Afghanistan in June. Friends and family say he was the kind of young man that he was always putting others first.

One Chesterton resident, a friend of the fallen soldier, said that before Butz left for Afghanistan, he had said he was willing to die for his country.

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