From Serving His Country to Serving Aces

Mike Butler
By Kevin Wittner,

Surprise, Ariz. - Mike Butler is an American hero.

Butler’s service dates back not to the Korean or Vietnam Wars, but to his days as a Naval Fire Controlman 2nd Class in World War II.

During his two years of service, Butler spent the majority of his time on a Destroyer stationed in the Pacific Ocean. However, he saw a number of international sites, including Iwo Jima, Okinawa and Guam. Additionally, his ship sailed by the USS Missouri where the Japanese surrendered on Sept. 2, 1945.

Of his time in the service, Butler says, “A lot of people did a lot more than I did and suffered a lot more than I did. But I loved my experience.

“I got to travel the world for free and I was too young to be scared,” Butler adds with a smile.

A native of Philadelphia, Butler began playing tennis at 45 years of age. Nearly four decades later, he is representing Team West Shore out of the Middle States in the USTA League 6.0 Super Senior National Championship.

Butler, who currently resides in Camp Hill, Pa., qualified for his third national championship, after West Shore defeated Delaware in Lancaster, Pa., in the sectional round. Prior to this week’s championship, Butler had played in championships in Kansas City and Palm Springs in 2005.

Jack Rudy who has been a teammate of Butler’s for nearly 10 years, says, “Mike loves tennis. He’s a quiet person who enjoys a beer every once in a while.”

Despite Butler’s mellow demeanor, Rudy says, “He can be opinionated about politics and on occasion will tell a story (from his time in the service), but he usually keeps that to himself.”

While Butler admits he no longer plays tennis four to five times a week, as he expects to have a knee replaced later this year, his passion for the game remains.

“I love this game,” Butler says, “and maybe this is not my last championship.”

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