91-year old Tavares veteran gets wish to fly granted
TAVARES, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35 ORLANDO) -
Tavares resident Virgil Butler, 91 years old, veteran, retired businessman and pilot with the famous Flying Tigers, has lived a very interesting life.
However, during a visit with members of the Tavares Fire Department, Butler let it be known that his one wish had always been to take a seaplane ride. On May 8, his wish was granted in America's Seaplane City.
Tavares Mayor, Robert Wolfe and Fire Department Battalion Chief, Jeff Hosterman, organized the ride with Richie Rowe of Jones Brothers & Co. Seaplane Adventures.
When Butler climbed into the co-pilot's seat his smile lit up the cockpit. With his wife of 52 years patiently waiting on the ground, the former pilot took to the skies and received the V.I.P. tour over Tavares.
Virgil Butler was a member of the Flying Tigers flying in the China-Burma-India Theater with the 74th fighter squadron.
Butler's plane was shot down during a mission and he was rescued by the Chinese underground. They had to escort him, on foot, over 100 miles to rejoin his unit. After WWII, he returned to civilian life, but was recalled to serve in the Korean Conflict.
Following his military service he worked in aviation as a flight instructor at Bartow, Florida. He and his wife now live in Tavares, Florida.
Tavares, America's Seaplane City, is proud to have been a part of making Virgil Butler's wish come true.
"It's the least we can do for an American hero," said Jeff Hosterman, TFD Battalion Chief.