Butler is without a doubt one of the most impressive figures in American history.
Butler received his commission at the age of 16. How many people do you know who could have commanded a platoon of Marines two years before they could buy cigarettes?
At the age of 18 Butler was awarded a Brevet promotion to Captain for actions in Tientsin, China during the Boxer Rebellion. The Brevet promotion (and the Brevet Medal created in 1921 and given to the medal's recipients retroactively) was at that time the highest honor a Commissioned officer could receive (Officers were not eligible to be awarded the Medal of Honor). Later, in San Tan Pating, China Butler was shot in the chest, piercing Central America on the large Eagle, Globe, and Anchor tattoo that covered his torso.
As a Major, Butler was awarded the Medal of Honor (now authorized for Officers) during the occupation of Veracruz, Mexico in 1914. He attempted to return the medal, protesting that he did not deserve it, but the medal was returned to him with orders stating that he would not only keep it, but also wear it.
First Medal of Honor Citation:
"For distinguished conduct in battle, engagement of Vera Cruz, April 22, 1914. Maj. Butler was eminent and conspicuous in command of his battalion. He exhibited courage and skill in leading his men through the action of the 22d and in the final occupation of the city".
In 1915 Butler led an assault on a rebel stronghold in Cuba resulting in 200 rebels killed, no prisoners taken, 2 teeth lost (the result of a Marine being struck in the face with a rock). Franklin D. Roosevelt, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, awarded Butler his second Medal of Honor for the action.
Second Medal of Honor Citation:
"As Commanding Officer of detachments from the 5th, 13th, 23d Companies and the marine and sailor detachment from the U.S.S. Connecticut, Maj. Butler led the attack on Fort Riviere, Haiti, November 17, 1915. Following a concentrated drive, several different detachments of marines gradually closed in on the old French bastion fort in an effort to cut off all avenues of retreat for the Caco bandits. Reaching the fort on the southern side where there was a small opening in the wall, Maj. Butler gave the signal to attack and marines from the 15th Company poured through the breach, engaged the Cacos in hand-to-hand combat, took the bastion and crushed the Caco resistance. Throughout this perilous action, Maj. Butler was conspicuous for his bravery and forceful leadership".
Regardless of his personal views, Butler always served with honor. As detailed in seeya's excellent post Butler went on to become very outspoken about a number of issues, but after the dues he paid he could have choked babies for a living and still been remembered as one of the greatest fighting men of all time.