Kall: All right, so, you say, you were basically, you got there; you were a freshman when he was a senior, so you spent a year at the Naval Academy, with him, living directly across the hall from him, apparently, right?
Butler: Yeah, as improbable as that is, because you know, strangely, out of three thousand six hundred midshipmen we had spread out in twenty four companies; I happened to fall into the Seventeenth Company, and right straight across the hall from John McCain and his roommate, I and my two roommates found ourselves living in the Seventeenth Company.
Kall: So you write he was intent on breaking every U.S. Naval Academy regulation in our four inch thick Naval Academy Regulations book and I believe he must have come as close to his goal as any midshipman who ever attended the academy.
Butler: We used to say that for John it was an art form, I mean, you know, it took more than intelligence and an active imagination; it was an art form for him, and he was a wild and irascible midshipman in those days.
Kall: What kind of rules did he break?
Butler: Everything you can imagine from being out over the wall at night, to just-- There were thousands of rules that could be broken and John, I think, had a go at all of them and he spent a lot of time also on detention his first class year, on, as we called it, restriction. Because of the ones that he broke and got caught at.
Kall: I'm wondering, were there any that were really bad or were they just misbehavior--?
Butler: I think they were misbehavior, I think that they were just in his "wild and wooly" nature, which, by the way carried on after he graduated when he became a Navy pilot; before he was shot down over Vietnam, he crashed several airplanes. He was a wild risk-taker and he still, I think to this day, If you watch him and read things about him, I think he practices-- brinkmanship.
Kall: Brinkmanship. So would you think that the average student at the Naval Academy could have gotten away with this, or would they have been thrown out?
Butler: Well, there was talk amongst those of us who I know and knew in that day, and not just my classmates but his classmates and those in between that he probably had a leg up in surviving this because he was the son of what was then a pretty high ranking Navy captain, who later became an admiral, and the grandson of a Navy admiral, so he was in a lineage of, you know, admiralty, in McCain.
Which probably happened more often than not, there at the Naval Academy; there were numerous midshipmen whose fathers were captains or admirals and so on and so forth, but John came from a special rarified navy lineage, and so you know, I remember--
Kall: So he came into the Naval Academy a child of privilege, who was able to get away with stuff that the average Naval Academy person who didn't have those privileges would never have gotten away with.
Butler: Well, that was said. Those were things that were being said at the time and I know that he did on at least one occasion have to go over and have a talk with Admiral Smidberg, the Superintendent of the Naval Academy, which was extremely unusual. I never heard of any other midshipman getting a --as we called it-- a "Dutch Uncle" talk at Navy, for being dressed down.
Kall: Do you remember what he did to cause that?
Butler: I don't; it was fifty years ago, so that one I can't remember, I'm sorry.