Seventy years ago, Medal of Honor recipient Edward “Butch” O’Hare was a lieutenant commander aboard the aircraft carrier Lexington. On February 20, 1942, he was piloting his beloved F4F Wildcat, “Felix The Cat,” when he and his wingman realized they were the only fighters available to defend against a wave of Japanese bombers intent on destroying their ship.
Setting aside concerns for personal safety, O’Hare surprised the enemy pilots by diving right in among them. When his ammunition ran out, he tried ramming some of them.
Finally, the Japanese pilots could take no more of the fighter’s deadly harassment, and fled. Somehow, O’Hare landed the tattered Wildcat. A gun-mounted camera confirmed that he destroyed five Japanese bombers. His marksmanship was so accurate that he averaged only ninety rounds per bomber downed.
A year later, O’Hare volunteered to lead a mission against Japanese bombers who, realizing they would never get at their targets in daytime, began attacking at night. For the brave pilot, the clock of life would soon be still. Apparently, a lucky shot from a Japanese gunner disabled his aircraft or killed him instantly. His body was never found. As a tribute to the ultimate sacrifice he made for his country, the city of Chicago named O’Hare International Airport after him.
Butch O’Hare lived and died
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