Ret. Sgt. Victor W. Butler — believed to be the last surviving member of the historic Tuskegee Airmen in Rhode Island — is turning 100 on May 21. To mark his centennial, Butler hopes to receive birthday cards from both loved ones and total strangers.
“Oh, I’ll read every one of them,” Butler told WJAR on April 22.
Butler can receive birthday cards at the following address:
Victor W. Butler
C/O Gary Butler
P.O. Box. 3523 Cranston, RI 02910
Prior to fighting in World War II, Butler said he originally planned on joining the Canadian Air Force with a friend, but his mother and father wouldn’t approve.
“So, I joined with the American Air Force,” Butler said.
He eventually became a mechanic for the Tuskegee Airmen.
“The airfield was very nice. It was the visit to the town that was bad,” he recalled. “Being in Tuskegee, Alabama, it wasn’t very acceptable to white people for black soldiers to be walking around.”
Now, Butler said he’s grateful to have a loving family and a nice home where he can do puzzles in his spare time.
“Just enjoy life as it is. Be thankful,” he said. “I’m thankful that I have a nice wife, and a nice home to live in.”
“There are so many people that have lost their home and I am very fortunate to have a nice home and wife and my family who come to visit me often,” he added.
There are few Tuskegee Airmen still alive today.
On Friday, Senior Master Sergeant James Bynum — one of the last 2 Tuskegee Airmen living in San Antonio, Texas — died in hospice care at the age of 101, local KENS 5 News reported.
In January, Brig. Gen. Charles McGee, one of the last surviving Tuskegee Airmen, died at 102 years old. McGee’s family called him a “living legend” in a statement announcing his death.
“McGee was a living legend known for his kind-hearted, and humble nature, who saw positivity at every turn,” the statement read. “He spent the last half century inspiring future generations to pursue careers in aviation, but equally important, he encouraged others to be the best they could be, to follow their dreams, and to persevere through all challenges.”
McGee ultimately retired at the rank of colonel, but then-President Donald Trump promoted him to the rank of brigadier general in 2020, just weeks after his 100th birthday.
“This was a double victory activity for black Americans, fighting against Hitler in Europe and also fighting against racism here at home,” McGee said of the Tuskegee Airmen during an Air Force video shared in 2020.
“Don’t let the circumstances be an excuse for not achieving,” he continued. “We could have easily said ‘they don’t like me, they don’t want me’ and go off into the corner with our head bowed. That’s not the American way.”