Friday, February 21, 2014


2/20/1942 -

Butch O'Hare.jpg
Butts kicked since Pearl Harbor, on this day the United States finally has a hero to celebrate, fighter pilot Lieutenant Edward "Butch" O'Hare.  

North of the island of New Ireland, operating off the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, O'Hare attacks a tight "V" formation of nine Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" bombers attempting to sink his ship ... by himself (his wingman's guns won't fire and the balance of air combat patrols preventing other attacks in the area are too scattered to provide support)!  Carrying only about 34 seconds worth of ammunition in his plane's four 50-caliber guns (450 rounds per gun), O'Hare gives a demonstration of what a Grumman F4F Wildcat can do in the hands of a talented and determined fighter pilot.  Diving on the Japanese bombers, in four rear firing passes O'Hare is officially credited with downing five Bettys and damaging a sixth plane (some historians claim his count for the day is only three kills, but I'm sticking with the legend) ... saving the Lexington and becoming an ace in a single day, the first of the U.S. Navy in World War II.  And the action also results in O'Hare being promoted to Lt. Commander, as well as becoming the first naval recipient in the war to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Sadly, O'Hare does not survive the war.  Leading a night patrol off the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise, on November 23, 1943, twenty-nine-year-old O'Hare pitches into another formation of Bettys ... and vanishes, never to be seen again.  But not forgotten ... not even close ... after the war, seeking a new name for the expansion of Chicago's Orchard Depot Airport, Colonel Robert R. McCormick, the publisher of the Chicago Tribune suggests honoring the flier once more ... and the landing field becomes Chicago, Illinois' O'Hare International Airport.

File:Edward Ohare.jpg

And spice for the story, hero O'Hare is the son of Edward J. "EJ" O"Hare, the lawyer and business associate of Al Capone responsible for providing the financial information that sends the gangster to Alcatraz (it is said that part of O'Hare's deal to provide law enforcement with the information consists of an agreement with the government that his son "Butch" will win an appointment to the United States Naval Academy).  

No heroism medal for Pop though, instead, on November 8, 1939, after leaving his office at Sportman's Park in Cicero, Illinois, the informant is shotgunned to death with a volley of big-game shells while driving his black Lincoln Zephyr near the intersection of Ogden and Rockwell (the assassins are never caught).  Life lost at forty-six, with his death O'Hare also loses his girlfriend ... who several months later marries the Capone lieutenant running the Chicago underworld at the time, hoodlum Frank Nitti.  Ouch!


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