b. 03/12/1895 St Louis, Missouri. d. 15/04/1921 St Louis, Missouri.
DATE OF MOH ACTION: 31/10 - 01/11/1919 Grande Riviere, Haiti.
Button was born December 3, 1895 in St. Louis, Missouri and after joining the Marine Corps was sent to fight in Haiti. He was in command of a group of Gendarmerie near Grande Riviere, Republic of Haiti, on October 31-November 1, 1919 when they engaged a group of Haitians opposed to the U.S. occupation. By the end of fighting Charlemagne Péralte, alleged in Button's citation to be "the supreme bandit chief in the Republic of Haiti", had been killed and about 1200 of his followers had been killed, captured or dispersed.
For risking his life in battle he, along with Sergeant Herman H. Hanneken, were cited for bravery, and recommended for the United States militaries highest decoration for bravery, the Medal of Honor, for their actions. The medal was approved by the Secretary of the Navy on June 10, 1920, and presented by the Major General Commandant of the Marine Corps, John A. Lejeune, at a ceremony in Washington, D.C., July 1, 1920. After the ceremony he took a short furlough to his hometown of St. Louis before returning to Haiti.
He died of pernicious malaria April 15, 1921 at the Department Hospital, Cap-Haïtien, Haiti, at the age of 25.
For extraordinary heroism and conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in actual conflict with the enemy near GRANDE RIVIERE Republic of Haiti, on the night of October 31 - November 1, 1919, resulting in the death of Charlemagne Peralte, the supreme bandit chief in the Republic of Haiti, and the killing and capture and dispersal of about twelve hundred (1200) of his outlaw followers. Corporal William R. Button not only distinguished himself by his excellent judgment and leadership, but unhesitatingly exposed himself to great personal danger, when the slightest error would have forfeited not only his life but the lives of the detachments of Gendarmerie under his command. The successful termination of his mission will undoubtedly prove of untold value to the Republic of Haiti.
BURIAL LOCATION: VALHALLA CEMETERY, ST LOUIS, MISSOURI.
Section 5S, Lot 66, Grave 1