Portsmouth native killed on USS Oklahoma in Pearl Harbor attack to be buried in Pennsylvania


Rodger Cornelius Butts (photo: Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs)

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — A Portsmouth native who was killed aboard the USS Oklahoma during the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor is set to be buried in Pennsylvania on December 20.

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Ships’ Cook 1st Class Rodger C. Butts was born in Deep Creek, Virginia on September 13, 1894. He enlisted into the military in New York at the age of 23.

While in the military he was stationed in Hampton Roads, as well as on the:

  • USS Oklahoma (BB 37)
  • USS Pennsylvania (BB 38)
  • UAA Arizona (BB 39)
  • USS Vireo (AM 52)
  • USS Robin (AM 3)
  • USS Relief (AH 1)
  • USS Charles Ausburne (DD 294)
  • USS Sixaola (ID 2777)
  • USS Proteus (AC 9)

As part of the Commissary branch, Butts was responsible for provisioning and preparing food for the Navy’s enlisted personnel.

He was recognized with the Purple Heart Medal, Combat Action Ribbon, Good Conduct Medal, American Defense Service Medal (with Fleet Clasp), Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal (with Bronze Star), World War II Victory Medal and the American Campaign Medal.

Prior to being disinterred in 2015, nearly 390 service members were unaccounted for. Since then, 355 have been individually identified.

Once identified, the family is given the choice to either have the Sailor re-interred at NMCP, or choose an alternate location, such as a veterans’, private family site, or Arlington National Cemetery.

The Navy pays for funeral expenses, family travel and lodging for up to three blood family members to the Service member.

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