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Photo by Pfc. David A. Weikle

Marine wants to follow in father’s footsteps

7 Jul 2006 | Pfc. David A. Weikle

Pfc. Dustin Butler has a dream of what he wants to do with his life. The assaultman with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment dreams of one day sighting in and fulfilling the sniper’s principle of “One shot, one kill.”

Butler, who graduated from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, S.C., Oct. 14, 2005, wants to be a Marine Corps sniper.

“My stepfather was a sniper and trained me to behave like a sniper, waiting for that one perfect shot,” said the Wintergarden, Fla. native. “He taught me the importance of patience and consistency.”

Butler looked to his stepfather and grandfather when he began considering the military. Both men told him of the camaraderie and brotherhood they had found in the Marines.

“I loved the Corps. The only regret I had was that I got out,” said Lee Belasky, Butler’s stepfather, a propane and natural gas serviceman. “My experiences in the Corps, both good and bad, made me a part of an everlasting brotherhood.”

That brotherhood was something that appealed to Butler. But it was an experience from childhood that had the most impact on him.

“We were sitting in church on Veterans Day and they asked everyone who had served to stand up,” said the short and stocky Butler. “I saw my father standing up and most of the there people were thanking him. I saw the respect that people had for him and those other veterans.”

It was the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which was the final push for Butler to join the Corps. He felt the patriotic call to defend the nation and set out to do just that even though he was still in high school.

“Anyone who has the ability to take action has the responsibility to do so,” he said. “I went to speak with a recruiter that day.”

His transformation into a Marine truly started July 20, 2005 when he went aboard MCRD Parris Island, S.C. Butler was reborn as a Marine Oct. 14, 2005 when he stood shoulder to shoulder with his father and grandfather in front of the Marines’ Memorial beside the Petross Parade Deck.

“It was one of those moments you never forget,” Butler said. “Three generations of Marines, standing together as part of the family that is the Corps.”

Butler went home to enjoy his leave before having to report to the Infantry Taining Battalion at the School of Infantry-East, Camp Geiger, N.C.  He followed in his father and grandfather’s steps by choosing to join the infantry.

“He could’ve gotten another job,” said Belasky. “But he was like me and my father, and wanted to be part of the infantry and what it stood for.”

While at ITB, Butler sustained a foot injury, which caused him to get dropped from training. He was put into the medical recovery platoon until he was able to train again.

“MRP was very difficult for him,” his father said. “We had to help him stay motivated and reminded him what he joined for. That, and determination are what helped him get through it.”

Butler is now getting ready to deploy with 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment. The training the battalion is receiving builds on infantry skills for the urban environment he learned in SOI.

“We patrol and clear buildings and are learning how to better communicate with each other,” Butler said. “We use simulation rounds and practice grenades to simulate combat.”

Sim rounds, as they are called, allow participants to be more realistically challenged. The Marines learn how to reload their weapons, conserve ammunition in combat and see where mistakes cause causalities.

Butler plans to apply to the sniper program after deployment. He feels he needs battlefield experience before he enters the program.

“Marines in a unit need to be able to trust each other,” he said. “When you go to a unit like the snipers, they expect someone with a little experience. Deploying will give me the chance to do that.”