Quote: "It was like a game of mortar Ping-Pong. They might think twice before they try that move again."
Capt. Kevin Butler, 101st Airborne.

Butler is a 30-year-old resident of Pattenburg, New Jersey, and a graduate from Mansfield College.

Source: News Wire Services and Jose Martinez in New York, "Army Captain Zaps Al Qaeda--Guides U.S. Firepower at Jeering Enemy", The New York Daily News, 7 March 2002, story on page five.

Go to 187th Regiment in America's wars / 101st Airborne in World War II / Follow-up story of 10 June 2002

How Jersey capt.'s mortars wiped the smirk off Al Qaeda fighters
ZAP !

Photo caption: Capt. Kevin Butler (l.) eyes drawings held up by First Sgt. Jon Blossom in Afghanistan in January. Yesterday, Butler called for attack that battered al Qaeda fighters.

The New York Daily News, on 7 March 2002, ran a front page story about Captain Kevin Butler (101st Airborne) whose actions resulted in a Bronze Star recommendation.

"A New Jersey soldier angered by trash-talking al Qaeda fighters—who kept dodging U.S. bombs and firing at his troops lured them into one last deadly round of taunting," the News reported.

As Americans and al Qaeda fought in the mountainous terrain, the enemy fired down on Butler's unit with mortars and heavy machine guns. Butler's mortar squad couldn't get the range to effectively return fire.

Meanwhile, American F-15 Eagles were striking from the air. But as soon as the bombers appeared, the al Qaeda fighters would pop into their caves. When the planes were gone, the al Qaeda would pop back out, laughing and taunting.

"I've never been so frustrated and angry," Butler was quoted as saying.

The News reported: "So Butler took off, running uphill on the peak—a task made more difficult by the thin mountain air— and exposed himself to hostile fire so he could pinpoint the enemy's position."

Butler scrambled up about 45 yards, got a reading, and came back to give the information to his radio man. Butler made six such trips, the News reported, before he was sure all the information was correct. 

Then Butler called for another air strike. As before, the al Qaeda disappeared from view, and, as before, appeared again when the planes were gone. But this time mortar bombs exploded over their heads, spraying shrapnel.

The News reported a claim by a U.S. operations specialist that four of the al Qaeda fighters were killed in this action.

Back home in the States, Adele Butler, the captain's mother, was contacted for reaction.

His mother, worried since hearing that eight G.I.'s had been killed in the five-day-old mountain campaign, was delighted to hear he was alive and her same old Kevin.

"I'm very, very proud of him," gushed Adele Butler. "But I think he's crazy."