Monday, November 19, 2007


World War II produced many heroes. One such man wasLieutenant Commander Butch O'Hare. He was a fighterpilot assigned to the aircraft carrier Lexington inthe South Pacific.One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission.After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge andrealized that someone had forgotten to top off hisfuel tank. He would not have enough fuelto complete his mission and get back to his ship. Hisflight leader told him to return to the carrier.Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation andheaded back to the fleet. As he was returning to themother ship he saw something that turned his bloodcold, a squadron of Japanese aircraft were speedingtheir way toward the American fleet.The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and thefleet was all but defenseless. He couldn't reach hissquadron and bring them back in timeto save the fleet. Nor could he warn the fleet of theapproaching danger. There was only one thing to do. Hemust somehow divert them from the fleet.Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he doveinto the formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50caliber's blazed as he charged in,attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another.Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation andfired at as many planes as possible until all hisammunition was finally spent. Undaunted, he continuedthe assault.He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tailin hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possibleand rendering them unfit to fly.Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off inanother direction.Deeply relieved, Butch O'Hare and his tattered fighterlimped back to the carrier. Upon arrival he reportedin and related the event surroundinghis return. The film from the gun-camera mounted onhis plane told the tale. It showed the extent ofButch's daring attempt to protect his fleet.He had in fact destroyed five enemy aircraft.This took place on February 20, 1942, and for thataction Butch became the Navy's first Ace of W.W.II,and the first Naval Aviator to win theCongressional Medal of Honor. A year later Butch waskilled in aerial combat at the age of 29. His hometown would not allow the memory of this WW II hero tofade, and today, O'Hare Airport in Chicago is named intribute to the courage of this great man.So the next time you find yourself at O'HareInternational, give some thought to visiting Butch'smemorial displaying his statue and his Medal ofHonor.It's located between Terminals 1 and 2.SO WHAT DO THESE TWO STORIES HAVE TO DO WITH EACHOTHER?Butch O'Hare was Easy Eddie's son.

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