Butch Voris died Tuesday (August 9, 2005). He was a great aviator, a fighter pilot, an ace and navy captain; a man respected by the best in his profession and those outside it. All his adult life he strived to be the best, an effort that resulted in the creation of the Blue Angels, the navy’s world-renowned flight demonstration team. He began his career in the dark early days of the Pacific War when only a courageous few blocked the Japanese. He was in the Battle of Santa Cruz, Guadalcanal, Tarawa, the first Battle of the Philippine Sea, The Marianas Turkey Shoot, and the “Mission into Darkness,” when air wing pilots launched to find the Japanese fleet knowing most wouldn’t have enough gas to return. His innovative ideas helped give birth to the F-14 “Tomcat,” changed the way the navy organized its air stations, and helped save the carriers, now our first line of defense, when an administration wanted to cut them. He was in the pantheon with aviators like Chuck Yeager, Pappy Boyington, and the “Right Stuff” astronauts, all of whom made their marks after Butch helped pave the way. He knew them all and they knew him; looked up to him. Even in his last year, he drew crowds at air shows, never refusing to autograph a picture, never asking anything in return. He was a man of action and integrity, even-temperedness and humor. Big in stature, he never got ruffled. Cool and smooth were his flying trademarks. He’d escaped so many dangerous situations, including a death-dealing midair and devastating enemy attacks, that it was a miracle he made it to 86. But that is testament to his abilities and skill. Yet despite all this, he was without pretension, straight-talking and easy-going, always fair and a gentlemen, even to the lowliest in his command. He was tough, yes. But he was also kind, an inspiration. God speed, Butch. I will miss you as will so many others. We're all better for knowing you. RKW