MILITARY OFFICER, PRESIDENTIAL APPOINTEE | AVIATION EXECUTIVE
Mr. Alexander Butterfield has had a distinguished career in both military and civil components of federal service. In the early years, he was a flight instructor in the Air Force’s fighter-gunnery training program, then a weapons officer for the 86th Fighter Group in Germany. From 1952 to 1954, he authored the first USAF-Europe Fighter-Gunnery Training Manual, flew on the 5-man team that won the 1954 European fighter-gunnery championship, and flew the right-wing position with the “Skyblazers,” America’s only jet formation aerobatic team in Europe. Later, he instructed at the Air Force Academy and commanded a tactical reconnaissance squadron in Japan and Vietnam, earning four Air Medals, the Bronze Star and Distinguished Flying Cross. Returning to Washington, D.C., he was assigned to the Immediate Office of the Secretary of Defense as Military Assistant for White House Matters, then to student status at the National War College, and from there, as Representative of the commander-in-chief, Pacific to the Commonwealth of Australia. On January 12, 1969, Mr. Butterfield was offered an appointment as Deputy Assistant to the President by President-elect Nixon. He accepted, then, adhering to long-standing tradition, took immediate steps to retire from active Air Force duty. For the next 50 months, he functioned as Deputy White House Chief of Staff and senior administrative officer with prime responsibility for the smooth running of all Oval Office activity and the President’s official day.
After President Nixon’s landslide re-election victory, Mr. Butterfield requested a transfer from the White House and was appointed Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. In July 1973, he was subpoenaed by the Senate “Watergate” Committee and asked a clear and direct question concerning listening devices at the White House. Though he had worked closely with, and liked the president, he felt compelled to respond forthrightly, “All the President’s Oval Office conversations are recorded.” The news was unanticipated and explosive; it changed the course of the investigation. In 1975, Mr. Butterfield retired after 27 years of federal service. He now lives in California and serves as Chairman of the Brain Observatory and as a director on several cooperate and foundation boards.