‘Wicked witch’ rescues I MEF (Fwd) Marines

6 Nov 2008 | Cpl. Jin Hyun Lee

In a quaint, cozy office resonating with the festive spirit of the upcoming Halloween holiday, Kathryn B. Butler, with the Staff Judge Advocate office, mans the desk with a warning sign, “Wicked witch.” 

“Watch out, I’ve been known to be one,” Butler joked and pointed to the sign. 

‘Wicked witch’ is a far cry from what the I Marine Expeditionary Force (Forward) Marines of Camp Pendleton, Calif., would dub Butler.  Butler is a supervisory paralegal and officer in charge of claims investigation at the SJA.  Her job entails processing claims against the government, including handling negative cases, such as arrests for Marines and sailors. 

August 2008 proved to differ for Butler when she was given a chance to help eight food service specialist Marines within I MEF (Fwd), who tragically lost all their possessions in a fire at Camp Fallujah, Iraq.

Gunnery Sgt. Arlene H. Collins, a traffic management specialist with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Camp Smedley D. Butler, Okinawa, Japan, was deployed with those Marines. She took charge and came to the Marines’ aid.  Collins knew Butler would help and contacted her immediately. 

Though I MEF (Fwd) wasn’t under her jurisdiction, Butler only saw a job needed to be done.  She was determined to take care of the Marines and get them paid. She oversaw the claims, making sure they were “good to go” to Headquarters Marine Corps, and they were. All the Marines got reimbursed.

“It was really no big deal.  I was only doing my job, but to them (the Marines) it meant a lot. These are the guys who put their lives on the line every day.  It was a very humbling experience,” said Butler. 

Immediately upon return from Iraq Oct. 3, Collins presented Butler with the colors that flew over their headquarters in Fallujah, Nov. 11.  The gift was in appreciation for Butler’s unfailing ability to take care of the grateful Marines of I MEF (Fwd).