LELAND, NC (WECT) - The wife of a soldier from Leland who died in Afghanistan this week released a written statement to the public Friday afternoon.
Sgt. TJ Butler was one of three people killed when a suicide bomber detonated a vest of explosives earlier this week. Butler graduated from Topsail High and attended Cape Fear Community College.
The statement from Sgt. Butler's wife, Holly, follows in italics:
Sgt. Thomas Jefferson Butler, IV, TJ, was the most proud and devoted husband and father, and a loving brother and son. He was the truest friend and would do anything he could for anyone. He is not only our hero, but a hero for this country he so bravely and proudly served.
Family was very important to TJ. His mother, Leslie, and father, Thomas, beam with pride when talking about their son. He enjoyed spending time with his younger brother and strived to be the best role model for Adam.
TJ and I first met in 2006 towards the end of his senior year at Topsail High School, and we were married in November of 2008. He was such a true blessing in my life and I have always said what a dream it was to be able to marry my best friend. TJ is and always will be the love of my life and my soulmate.
After high school, TJ set his eyes on his dream of becoming a law enforcement officer, serving and protecting our family and all those in the community where he would work. He attended Cape Fear Community College and joined the Army National Guard in hopes that this would pave the way to his future career.
TJ loved to play every kind of sport. Whether he was fishing, golfing, playing basketball, or bowling, he was just happy to be playing something. He strived to become the best at everything he did. He especially loved bowling, and this was something we enjoyed doing together, as well as with our family and friends. TJ bowled several 300 games and an 809 series.
While TJ was passionate about reaching his goals and his dream career, nothing was more important to TJ than our family. More than anything he wanted to provide for us and give my son and me a good life. Anyone who knew TJ knew that he was proud to serve his country and was so very thankful for the opportunities being in the service had given us. TJ truly enjoyed life and was a joy to all who knew him. He always had a smile on his face and wanted to make the most of every minute he had with me and with our son.
There are not words to express how greatly TJ will be missed. TJ will forever be with us, and our son will always know what a brave hero his father was, how he gave everything to whatever he put himself into, and how deeply he loved us.
The family and I would like to thank everyone for the thoughts and prayers that have been conveyed to us.