MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan --
"Things that some people would consider going above and beyond, are just part of the fun for me!"
For Robert Butterworth, it's more than just a job, his work is an overall more rewarding experience. "I get to schedule large scale exercises in the morning and then in the afternoon I get to OC spray and taser some Marines; Just scream and yell and have fun with them." Robert Butterworth who is now the training specialist at the Provost Marshal's Office at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. He describes his family lovingly, explaining the friendly-open armed nature of his family. The environment of lovingness in which he was raised starkly contrasted the rough area itself.
"I grew up in a not-so-great part of town and went to lower income schools, but having the stability and the home life of a very happy family I was able to keep myself grounded and not get caught up in any big trouble."
Butterworth explains that the combination of such a warm and loving household contrasted by the dangerous environment helped develop his worldview and the way he looked for his place in it.
"I wanted to take my experience and adapt it to be a protector, to just be a part of the community and to help all types of people."
As he grew older, he began wrestling with what he was going to do with his life once he graduated and left the house. He knew that he wanted to impact his community but did not know how he was going to do so.
"I was always told you got to go to school, you got to go to college, and you got to get a degree. But there was no way I was going to be able to afford that."
He began to look at options that would give him the opportunity to get a degree without going broke or hurting himself. The military was something he had been seriously considering due to both his father and grandfather having served in the military. Suddenly everything changed and his choice was solidified.
"9/11 happened, and the entire world changed with it. I realized it's never going to be the same and I wanted to do something about it," Butterworth explained. "I've always had that protective gene in me, and I wanted to make sure my babysitter never had to see anything like that again, and I still wanted to get my degree. The military was a way to accomplish both of those things."
Butterworth went straight into the Army recruiter's office with newfound clarity of exactly what he wanted to do. "When I started, I knew I was going to be a military police officer, and I was going to go to school, and I was going to get a criminal justice degree."
Butterworth enlisted in the U.S. Army National Guard as a military police officer while pursuing a criminal justice degree at St. Ambrose University in Davenport Iowa. During his time as a military police officer (MP), Butterworth found a real passion for policing, specifically for being able to serve his community, but the job still did not feel like it was exactly where he wanted to be.
"I fell in love with military policing and the community service aspect of it, but when I deployed, I realized that I needed to come at it from a different angle, I realized that mentality and the way that I approach people didn't quite line up with the idea of policing in itself."
One day, Butterworth came upon a crossroads in his career when he had to choose between graduating from school, after working toward it for 7 years, or deploying again. He was adamant to get that degree, so he chose to get out of the military and finish his degree with the intent of going back. He ended up graduating from school with three bachelor's degrees, as a sociology, philosophy and theology major. Though he explains that he is incredibly grateful and proud of those degrees, he also claimed that they did not advance him in the career field he's in.
"I was kind of lost for a while after school, I ended up working for a grocery store, of all places, and I did not enjoy it at all," said Butterworth. "The schedules were bad, but I liked the people. I loved talking and working with them, and the customer service aspect of it."
Despite enjoying aspects of the job, he didn't find it fulfilling enough to stay. Eventually Butterworth found a job opening at the local military base where he worked as a security guard. Not only did he find the job more enjoyable, but he also excelled. Within a few short months Butterworth was promoted and moved to a different position.
"I was put in the training side of the house which I immediately fell in love with."
It was in this first training position Butterworth realized that he had a genuine passion for being able to take the experiences he had and turn them into teaching points. He began to search for more job opportunities that allowed him to teach. During his search, he came across a job opportunity at MCAS Iwakuni.
"I remember thinking it was really funny. When I applied for this position, it felt like it was tailor-made for me," he said regarding the training specialist job working with PMO. "You know a civilian, working for the military, doing military policing specific training. I couldn't believe it. I thought this is exactly what I've been looking for. And it was!"
Since arriving in Iwakuni, his passion to instruct has only grown and continues to be evident to everyone around him.
"The biggest thing that stands out to me with Mr. B is his passion to teach,'' explained Staff Sgt. Alberto Camacho, the MCAS Iwakuni PMO training chief, who has known Butterworth since 2020, when Butterworth was his student at the Inter-Service Non-Lethal Individual Weapons Instructor Course in Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri. "When he gets in front of the students and is passing the knowledge and experience he has, you can definitely tell he is passionate about it and takes pride in what he does."
Part of what fuels that passion and drive to do his best is being able to see a difference made in the community he is in.
"I had an individual on base not too long ago who was able to save the life of a choking infant. I was his instructor for first-aid CPR and automated external defibrillator emergency situations," explained Butterworth "and I feel like I did have a direct impact on that."
For Butterworth, it all comes down to passion; the leaders in his field are motivated and put in the very best they have because they are driven by passion. And it directly plays into how Butterworth conducts himself as a leader and how he mentors Marines as well.
"My fellow instructors and I have all been in situations where we've found a passion to do our job and that's how you get those leaders," Butterworth explains. "It's naturally occurring because we have this drive to share our experiences and help our community. So, it doesn't feel like above and beyond. It just feels like part of completing the mission."