Graduating from the University of Kentucky in 1982, Rear Adm. Richard Butler entered Aviation Officer Candidate School in June 1983 and earned his wings in July 1985. He was assigned to Training Squadron (VT) 23 in Kingsville, Texas, as an instructor pilot before reporting to Naval Air Station Miramar for training in the F-14 Tomcat at Fighter Squadron (VF) 124.
Butler’s operational tours include his first fleet assignment at VF-51 where he completed two Western Pacific-Indian Ocean deployments with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 15 aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and a department head tour with VF-2 where he deployed with CVW-2 aboard USS Constellation (CV 64). In May 2000, he reported to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 25 in Lemoore, California, as executive officer and assumed command in September 2001. During this tour, he completed two deployments with CVW-14 aboard USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). In October 2005, Butler reported to CVW-14 as the deputy commander and assumed command of the air wing March 1, 2007. During this tour, he participated in three deployments aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) to the Western Pacific, Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
Ashore, he served as a fleet replacement squadron instructor at VF-124 and the operations officer at the Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN). With the establishment of the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center in May 1996, he served as the assistant TOPGUN department head until October 1997. From November 1997 to October 1999, Butler was assigned to the Strategy Division of the J5 Directorate at Headquarters, United States European Command in Stuttgart, Germany. In January 2003, he reported again to the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center where he served as the TOPGUN department head and Strike department head. From May to August 2005, he served as deputy director, Combined Air Operations Center, Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. He earned a master’s degree in National Security Strategy at the National War College in Washington, D.C., and then served as chief of staff for Commander, Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet from July 2009 to August 2011. From September 2011 to June 2013 he served as the head of air warfare requirements for the director, Air Warfare on the staff of the deputy chief of naval operations (warfare systems). He most recently served as commander, Joint Task Force-Guantanamo from July 2013 to July 2014.
Butler is currently serving as commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 4.
He has accumulated over 5,650 flight hours and 1067 carrier-arrested landings, primarily in the F-14 Tomcat and FA-18 Hornet. His decorations include the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Strike and Flight Air Medal, Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal, and Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, along with various campaign and service awards.