They came by the hundreds and hundreds, to line the streets of Duneland, to
stand in silent grief, to salute the casket and honor the flag, as a Porter
boy who died a man returned home on Saturday to be laid to rest.
Folks who a week ago had never heard of Spc. James A. Butz, U.S. Army,
joined those who knew and loved him to bear witness to his sacrifice and
heroism as a procession which stretched some two miles along Ind. 49 wound
its way into and through the towns of Porter and Chesterton.
In that procession: Porter and Chesterton police officers and firefighters,
Indiana State Police troopers, and motorcycle officers with the Porter
County Sheriff’s Police and the Lake County Sheriff’s Police. Valparaiso
Police and other local agencies assisted with traffic control.
In addition, 216 members of the motorcycle mounted Patriot Guard—originally
organized to provide security at the funerals of fallen service
members—thundered their respects.
Street Commissioner and CPD Reserve Officer John Schnadenberg—who with CPD
Chief Dave Cincoski accompanied the Butz family to the Porter County
Municipal Airport and back—told the Chesterton Tribune that he has
never before seen this kind of outpouring from the community. “They were
lined all the way down Ind. 49, holding flags,” he said. “It was very
patriotic. It was a very humbling experience, very emotional.”
Beth Adkins, a Chesterton resident, watched the procession from her
neighborhood in the Downtown. “When that first police car came down the
street, you could have heard a pin drop,” she said. “It was that quiet,
folks were that moved, you could have heard a pin drop. All of those people,
a lot of children too, and no one said a word. We were standing on the
street and it was like we were in church.”
Then the Patriot Guard followed, and as one person who asked not to be named
told the Tribune, people used the rumble of its bikes as an
opportunity to “cry and sniffle and wipe their eyes.”
Donna Simmers, also a Chesterton resident, was southbound on Ind. 49 and
heading to Valparaiso when she saw the Patriot Guard roaring the other way
and, like everybody else on the road with her at the time, stopped on the
shoulder in respect. “It was very touching, very heart-warming to see the
public support of Jim Butz and his family,” she said.
Spc. Butz, a combat medic with the 82nd Airborne Division, died on Sept. 28
in the Helmand Province in Afghanistan, after being hit by a blast from an
improvised explosive device while rushing to the aid of two Marines hit in a
previous blast. All three men perished.
Spc. Butz, 21, was a 2009 graduate of Chesterton High School, where he was
highly respected for his work ethic as a football player and wrestler.
Funeral services, Pastor Jane Aicher officiating, are scheduled for 11 a.m.
Tuesday at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 2050 W. 1100N in Chesterton.
A full obituary appeared on the front page of Friday’s edition of the