Edward H. “Butch” O’Hare was a young pilot who suddenly became a national hero. It was 1942, and US forces had officially entered World War II following the attack on Pearl Harbor.
A fascinating take from the guys at Yarnhub on this video.
Serving aboard the USS Lexington, the handsome and popular “Butch” was in the South Pacific. The Japanese had invaded Rabaul in East New Britain province and the plan was to attack them from the air.
Sitting in a Wildcat fighter, Butch took on 5 Mitsubishi “Betty” bombers. He managed to down them in under 4 mins.
For this feat he was awarded the Medal of Honor and went to the White House with his wife Rita to meet President Roosevelt. He rose up the ranks, becoming Lt Commander of his old squadron and finally Air-Group Commander.
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Tragically Butch was shot down in a Hellcat the following year. But news of his triumph had made a strong impression on St Louis, the place where he was born and raised.
O’Hare International Airport was named after him, but that was in Chicago. Why there? The answer lies in Butch’s famous father, Edgar Joseph “EJ” O’Hare.
This enterprising character, nicknamed “Easy Eddie”, started off living above a grocery store in St Louis. He purchased the rights to the mechanical rabbit used on dog tracks, and soon drew attention to himself.
Eddie then became a business partner of Al Capone, working together in the Windy City – hence the Chicago connection.
Having inspired Butch’s love of planes, Eddie sent his son to military academy. Capone’s man began to question being involved in criminal activity, worrying about the memories he’d leave Butch.
He switched sides, helping Eliot Ness and the Untouchables nail his boss for tax evasion.
Eddie knew he was in big trouble. Sure enough, he was assassinated in his car. It was 1939. Butch would enter the history books as a war hero just 3 years after.
Both died before their time, yet for noble reasons. Without Easy Eddie, the world wouldn’t know about Butch O’Hare.