In 1943, Butkofski, who worked at the post office in Paynesville, was drafted into the Army. In December of that same year, at the age of 21, he shipped off for Italy to serve with the 88th Infantry Division. His outfit was mainly made up of guys from California, Texas, Michigan, New Jersey, and New York, some of whom he still corresponds with at Christmas time.
His ship first landed in Caseblanca, and he then went on to Oran, Algiers, and then Italy, where he served close to three years as battalion clerk. He typed bookwork, but the main duty of his Army outfit was to "remove the Germans from the hills of Italy." With his ability to speak German, he also served as an enterpreter for the German prisoners of war.
"Our job was to find out where the guns were," Butkofski said. "Sometimes they cooperated. The war was over for them."
There are many memories of his time in Italy that Butkofski would rather forget, but he recalled one stretch of time when he had to go 56 days without a warm meal, a change of clothes, or a shower.
With one bronze star with cluster and one purple heart with cluster, Butkofski is very particular that his certificates of appreciation not be called "awards." He commented there are many other WWII veterans, many who have now passed away; but who also served in the military, sacrificing themselves in different ways for their country, without any recognition.
As a WWII veteran of the 88th Infantry Division, he and the other members of his batallion will long be remembered for the part they played in defending the cause of freedom.
Memorial Day program
Area veterans and their families will gather at the Paynesville Area Elementary School on Monday, May 26, to pay tribute to those who served and gave their lives for our country.
The Paynesville American Legion Post #271 will host the annual Memorial Day services at 9:30 a.m. on May 27. Master of ceremonies will be Carl Wagner, former Legion commander.
Instead of a guest speaker this year, Paynesville American Legion members will do the ďPost Everlasting Ceremony.Ē The ceremony is for comrades who have died during the past year. Copies of their service records are burned by the chaplain as part of the ceremony. Veterans to be recognized during the ceremony are Isadore Weller, Walter Putzke, Ray Webb, Louis Nelson, Dick Stowell, Oscar Lunderby, Garret Swenson, Ed Schaumann, Jr., Howard Schoutz and Melvin Schultz.
Joe Kremer, Legion Post #271 Commander, will read the roll call of the honored dead while Millie Wagner, VFW Auxiliary president, and Lois Nehring, Legion Auxiliary President, lower the poppies.
Following the salute in front of the school, the Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts, Girl Scouts, Paynesville Marching Band and American Legion members will parade to the Lake Street Bridge, on the north edge of town, for a tribute to the naval dead. From there, the band and Legion members will be bused to the Paynesville Cemetery for a short ceremony there.
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