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Tony Butkovich- from high school hero to American hero


Published: Nov. 11, 2021 at 11:22 PM CST
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PEORIA (25 NEWS) -

WHEN THE LEWISTOWN INDIANS STORM ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD, THEY ARE RUNNING ON BUTKOVICH FIELD- NAMED AFTER ONE OF CENTRAL ILLINOIS’ GREAT HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETES,

1940 LEWISTOWN HIGH GRAD TONY BUTKOVICH

Bruce Weirauch -

He led Lewistown football to their only undefeated season in 1939. And then the only time Lewistown went to the state basketball finals was in 1940 and he led that team and was the leading scorer on that team

Greg Bennett- He was the kind of guy that could do everyting. He was strong--he could run and jump. He probably a decathlon type people and his name is deservedly on our field today

BLONDIE BUTKOVICH WAS HIS NICKNAME IN HIGH SCHOOL. IN COLLEGE, HE BECAME TOUCHDOWN TONY.

AFTER STARTING AT THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS, BUTKOVICH TRANSFERED TO PURDUE DUE TO THEIR MARINES OFFICER TRAINING PROGRAM.

AS A 1943 BOILERMAKER,

THE BULLDOZING BUTKOVICH LED THE NATION IN RUSHING AND SCORING.

TOUCHDOWN TONY HAD 13 SCORES INCLUDING 4 IN A WIN OVER ILLINOIS --A GAME IN WHICH TONY BUTKOVICH PLAYED AGAINST HIS BROTHER, THE ILLINI’S WILLIAM BUTKOVICH.

Bruce Weirauch- The year before he got there, Purdue won 1 game. Then with Tony, they had their only undefeated season ever.

BUTKOVICH WAS NAMED TO EVERY MAJOR ALL AMERICAN TEAM AND RECEIVED HEISMAN TROPHY VOTES. HE THEN BACK A 1ST ROUND N-F-L DRAFT PICK BY CLEVELAND.

BUT A PRO CAREER WOULD BE DELAYED AS BUTKOVICH INSTEAD ENLISTED IN THE U-S MARINES DURING WORLD WAR 2

Bruce Weirauch- Tony was probably a big enough name that he could have been granted service away from conflict. But he chose to go to combat

TONY BUTKOVICH WAS KILLED BY SNIPER FIRE AT OKINAWA ON APRIL 18, 1945---JUST AFTER HIS 24TH BIRTHDAY

Bruce Weirauch- He was hit by sniper fire. He was on the beach and was struck in the head by a Japanese sniper

IN SPORTS, WE OFTEN USE THE CLICHE A TEAM IS GETTING READY FOR BATTLE. A TEAM IS READY TO GO TO WAR ON FRIDAY NIGHT. FOR TONY BUTKOVICH AND HIS GENERATION, GOING TO WAR WAS MORE THAN A CLICHE. THEY WERE TRYING TO SAVE THE WORLD AND BECOME MUCH MORE THAN FOOTBALL HEROES

Greg Bennett- Football is definitley a battle--but for the most part, everyone makes it back. Tony Butkovich, unfortunately did not make it back from World War 2. But I think he set a great example for our community when he played here and he definitely took care of business when it came to the real war in World War 2

BUTKOVICH’S NAME LIVES ON THROUGHOUT FULTON COUNTY--

IN HIS HOMETOWN OF ST DAVID...AND AT LEWISTOWN HIGH.

HIS STORY AND LIFE IS A TRULY ALL AMERICAN---BUT HIS DEATH AT AGE 24 IS ALSO A SAD REMINDER OF THE HARSH REALITY OF WORLD WAR 2

Bruce Weirauch- I think Tony just kinds of represents what we all lost in the war. We lost the best that we had here. He’s someone we should be proud of and we should always remember

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