Butch Voris, though very well known for his aviation accomplishments, never sought to bring attention or personal gain as a result of any of his many personal achievements. In that regards he was very humble and modest. However, he was willing to use his fame to promote his beloved Blue Angels for the betterment and advantage specifically of Naval Aviation and the Navy. As a result, in later life, he was a popular speaker, who spoke often about his many aviation adventures, in a humorous and self effacing manner. Particularly impressive was his ability to continue to relate to various generations of youthful Blue Angels fans. He was also very supportive and enthusiastic about the enlisted personnel that have supported the Team and Naval Aviation through his various tours. I will never cease to be amazed by the positive impact and impression that he made on so many people during his lifetime. What a wonderful legacy.
He had a few favorite sayings that tell a lot about his character.
One in particular was “Get it up, get it on, and get it down.” Though originally applied to his philosophy of Blue Angel Air Show performances, it became a broader philosophy statement later in life. His strong personality, insistence on excellence through pilot debriefs and commitment, and through teamwork, established a tradition that continues with the Blues today.
He also would joke about having used up at least 8 of his 9 lives through his exploits, and how looking back he wouldn’t have changed a thing. “I wish I could do it all over again.”
In a sense, the format for the Butch Voris Memorial Service is an attempt to do it all over again. The speakers chosen represent various facets of Butch’s life from WWII fighter ace, Blue Angels founder and leader, Air Group Commander, loyal friend, air show supporter and dedicated parent and grandparent. Included in the ceremony are his grandsons Hank and Ryan, his biographer Robert Wilcox, the author of “First Blue”, Russ Reiserer, a WWII Ace in his own right who joined the Navy the very same day that Butch joined, Dusty Rhodes, a WWII colleague, POW, who Butch chose to join the Blues and became their third leader, Wayne Handley, a former Navy pilot who is a famous stunt flier from the Air Show circuit, George Whisler, who commanded a fighter squadron in Butch’s Air Group, RADM Winston Copeland USN (Ret), fellow aviator to read a letter from Captain Dobson, CO NAS JAX, and Al Cheney, a close personal friend from the Santa Cruz area where Butch grew up. All emceed by Kathy Eby who met Butch through his support of the California Air Show in Salinas.
Butch led a long and full life, and accomplished a great deal, but the creation of the Blue Angel tradition was his crowning achievement. He was so proud of the Blue Angels and the personnel who maintain this tradition. He met with nearly every team leader and member during the lifetime of the team. He always looked forward to attending the pre air show and post air show briefings and the Team reunions. He meant so much to the Team and they meant so much to him. It is only fitting and a great thrill and comfort to his family, that after full military honors are rendered that the Blue Angels will participate in the Memorial Service by doing a missing man formation flyover. I know Butch will be looking down at the proceedings with a twinkle in his eye, and the thrill and pride that he always experienced when he watched the Team perform. His family will be ever grateful that The Blue Angels Flyover provided a fitting and official end to this remembrance. However, we great take pride and joy in the thought that Butch’s legacy will live on through the world’s greatest fliers and flight demonstration team, The Navy’s Blue Angels.