Butch Voris returned to the USS Hornet (CV 12) for the second time since WW II on January 28, 2005. The occasion was a joint luncheon between the Western Regional Tailhook Association and the Bay Area Naval Academy Alumni Association. Attendance exceeded 200 hands and everyone agreed it was a record crowd for an event of this type. Butch’s told tales for 30 minutes to the delight of the assemblage.
Two of Butch’s WW II shipmates attended the luncheon. Russ Reiserer, who enlisted in the Navy in Alameda, CA, on the same day as Butch’s induction. As a result, Russ is a couple numbers senior to Butch on the Navy seniority list. Russ went on to become a WW II Ace in his own right. He flew F4F Wildcats aboard the USS Enterprise during the Battle of Santa Cruz, October 1942. He was posted as Executive Officer of VF(N)-76 and shot down five aircraft on June 19, 1944, becoming an Ace-in-a-Day. He worked on the development of the steam catapult, bringing aircraft carriers into the jet age. He retired from the Navy in 1969. Dusty Rhodes was also present. Dusty and Butch served aboard the Enterprise in VF 2 in 1942. During the Battle of Santa Cruz, Dusty was shot down. After surviving in the water for a number of hours he was taken captive by the Japanese and spent 35 months as a prisoner of war. He was chosen by Butch to serve with the Blue Angels and became the third leader of the team during his tour, from 1947 to 1950.
Butch served on the Hornet with VF2 Naval Fighter Squadron Rippers during his second tour in combat during WWII. VF-2 was the top fighter squadron in the Pacific with more total victories and more ace pilots than any other fighter squadron. Life magazine called them the Hottest Squadron in the Pacific. The “Rippers” set a record that still stands: out of 50 pilots, 27 were confirmed aces. He recounted his involvement in the Battle of the Philippine Sea that took place on June 19th and June 20th, 1944. This Battle involved a major air engagement known as the Marianas Turkey Shoot due to the large number of Japanese airplanes that were shot down. The continuation of the engagement led to the Mission beyond Darkness. Butch modestly described his involvement in this hair raising series of events. The Hornet’s log, still on board, clearly outlines Butch’s heroic accomplishments during this period where he served as operations officer of VF2.
Butch graciously signed autographs as all copies of “First Blue” that were on hand quickly became keepsakes for those in attendance.