Butcko, Joseph A.



Butcko, Joseph A.


Joseph A. Butcko


William Vollano


Joseph Butcko was born in Ypsilanti, and at the time that World War II broke out, he was apprenticed in the tool and die business. He was drafted into the armed forces at age 19. Joseph was already married at that time, to his high school sweetheart. Both of his brothers were also serving in the war, both in the Pacific Theater. He chose to enter the Navy and went to basic training at the Great Lakes institution, in Chicago, IL. Joseph traveled briefly to Norfolk, VA, and then was sent back to Chicago, to practice gunnery at Navy Pier. He was eventually shipped out to Guam, as a helmsman on a Landing Ship Tank (LST). There were over 100 men on his crew, and despite the fact that it was considered a big crew, he eventually got to know every soldier on it. While on Guam, he saw many soldiers returning from the battle of Iwo Jima in ambulances and taken to the hospital up the mountain - this experience really drove the reality of war home to him. Joseph took part in the attack on Okinawa, in which he drove a shuttle landing craft (a small craft) back and forth from larger boats, to carry marines to the beach. There were many Japanese Kamikaze planes involved in this battle, and he saw his brother's ship hit by two Kamikaze planes - luckily, no one was killed. While serving in the Pacific, Joseph ran into many friends from Ypsilanti, as well as both of his brothers. After the war was over, Joseph served in China, keeping the peace. He also helped facilitate the transportation of Japanese soldiers and civilians, who had been occupying much of China, back to Japan. When he was discharged from the Navy, he returned to Ypsilanti to work in the tool and die manufacturing business.

Date Span

Dates of Service


Drafted; United States Navy; Landing Ship Tank (LST); World War, 1939-1945; Second World War - Pacific Theater; Seaman First Class


Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress

Collection Location


Spatial Coverage

Second World War - Pacific Theater

Item sets