Edward O'Hare

Infobox Military Person
name= Edward Henry O'Hare
born= birth date|1914|3|13
died= death date and age|1943|11|26|1914|3|13
placeofbirth= St. Louis, Missouri
placeofdeath= Near the Gilbert Islands
placeofburial=


caption= LT Edward Butch O'Hare in a Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat The wartime censor has blanked out the famous "Felix the Cat" squadron [http://img131.imageshack.us/img131/8395/felix7fp.jpginsignia] on this photo ( [http://img113.imageshack.us/img113/3397/oharecolourizedversion9su.jpgcolorized] photo version).
nickname= "Butch"
allegiance= United States of America
branch= United States Navy
serviceyears= 1937-1943
rank= Lieutenant Commander
commands= Fighting 3 (VF-3), Air Group 6
battles= Pacific War
awards= Medal of Honor Navy Cross Distinguished Flying Cross (2) Purple Heart
laterwork=

Lieutenant Commander Edward Henry "Butch" O'Hare (March 13, 1914 – November 26, 1943) was a naval aviator of the United States Navy who on February 20, 1942 became the U.S. Navy's first flying ace and Medal of Honor recipient in World War II. Butch O'Hare's final action took place on the night of November 26, 1943, while he was leading the U.S. Navy's first-ever nighttime fighter attack launched from an aircraft carrier. During this encounter with a group of Japanese torpedo bombers, O'Hare was shot down; his aircraft was never found. In 1945, the U.S. Navy destroyer USS "O'Hare" (DD-889) was named in his honor.

A few years later, O'Hare was honored when Colonel Robert R. McCormick, publisher of the Chicago Tribune, suggested a name change of Chicago's Orchard Depot Airport as tribute to Butch O'Hare. On September 19, 1949, the Chicago, Illinois airport was renamed O'Hare International Airport. The airport displays a Grumman F4F-3 [ [http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v20/jinxx1/F4F%20Wildcat/F4F-3123202.jpgAirport aircraft exhibit, F4F-3 Wildcat (Bu. No. 12320)] ] [ [http://img119.imageshack.us/img119/5362/ordairportf4fhi4.jpgAirport aircraft exhibit, cockpit of F4F-3 Wildcat (Bu. No. 12320)] ] museum aircraft replicating the one flown by Butch O'Hare during his Medal of Honor flight. The Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat on display was recovered virtually intact from the bottom of Lake Michigan, where it sank after a training accident in 1943 when it went off the training aircraft carrier USS "Wolverine" (IX-64). The [http://www.airclassicsmuseum.org/Archive%20Articles/Wild%20about%20Wildcats.htm Air Classics Museum] restored the aircraft in 2001 to look like the exact one that O'Hare flew. The restored Wildcat is exhibited in Terminal Two at the west end of the ticketing lobby to honor O'Hare International Airport's namesake.

Early life

Edward Henry Butch O'Hare was born in St. Louis, Missouri to Edward Joseph O'Hare and Selma O'Hare. Butch had two sisters, Patricia and Marilyn. When their parents divorced in 1927, Butch and his sisters stayed with their mother Selma in St. Louis while their father Edward moved to Chicago. Butch's father had been a lawyer who had been working closely with Al Capone before turning against him and helping convict Al Capone for tax evasion. [ [http://www.acepilots.com/usn_ohare.html "Acepilots: Lt. Cdr. Edward "Butch" O'Hare"] ]

Butch O'Hare graduated from the Western Military Academy (WMA) in 1932, and the following year went on to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. Graduated and appointed an Ensign from June 3, 1937, he served two years on board the battleship USS "New Mexico" (BB-40), before reporting for flight training. In 1939 he started flight training at NAS Pensacola in Florida, learning the basics on Naval Aircraft Factory N3N-1 "Yellow Peril" and Stearman NS-1 biplane trainers, and later on the advanced SNJ trainer. On the nimble Boeing F4B-4A he trained in aerobatics as well as aerial gunnery. He also flew the SBU Corsair and the TBD Devastator. [Ewing and Lundstrom 1987, p. 87, 88.]

In November 1939, his father was shot, most likely by Al Capone's gunmen. During Capone's tax evasion trial in 1931 and 1932, O'Hare's father provided incriminating evidence which helped finally put Capone away. There is speculation that this was done to ensure that Butch got into Annapolis, or to set a good example. Whatever the motivation, the elder O'Hare was shot down in his car, a week before Capone was released from incarceration.

When Butch finished his naval aviation training May 2, 1940 [ [http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/o2/ohare_.htm "Naval Historical Center - O'Hare"] ] he was assigned to Fighter Squadron THREE (VF-3), USS "Saratoga"'s fighter squadron. O'Hare now trained on the Grumman F3F and then graduated to the Brewster F2A Buffalo. Lieutenant John Thach, then Executive Officer of VF-3, discovered O'Hare's exceptional flying abilities and closely mentored the promising young fighter pilot. [ Ewing and Lundstrom 1987, p. 93-94.] Thach, who later developed the Thach Weave aerial combat tactic, emphasized gunnery in his training. In 1941 more than half of all VF-3 pilots, including Butch, earned the "E" for gunnery excellence.

In early 1941, Fighting Squadron Three transferred to USS "Enterprise" (CV-6), while carrier [ Ewing and Lundstrom 1987, p. 97.] USS "Saratoga" (CV-3) underwent maintenance and overhaul work at Bremerton Navy Yard.

On Monday morning, July 21, O'Hare made his first flight in a Grumman F4F Wildcat. Following stops in Washington and Dayton, he landed in St. Louis on Tuesday. Visiting the wife of a friend in hospital this afternoon, O'Hare met his future wife, the nurse Rita Wooster, proposing to her the first time he met her. After O'Hare took instruction in Roman Catholicism to convert, he and Rita married in St. Mary's Catholic Church in Phoenix on Saturday, September 6, 1941. For their honeymoon, they sailed to Hawaii on separate ships, Butch on "Saratoga", which had completed modifications at Bremerton, and Rita on the Matson liner "Lurline". Butch was called to duty the day after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.

On Sunday evening, January 11, 1942, as Butch and other VF-3 officers ate dinner in the wardroom, the carrier "Saratoga" was damaged by a Japanese torpedo hit while patrolling southwest of Hawaii, she spent five months in repair on the West Coast, so VF-3 squadron transferred to the USS "Lexington" (CV-2) on January 31.

World War II service

Medal of Honor flight

O'Hare's most famous flight occurred during the Pacific War on February 20, 1942. LT O'Hare and his wingman were the only U.S. Navy fighters available in the air when Japanese 2nd wave of bombers were attacking his aircraft carrier "Lexington".

Butch O'Hare was on board the aircraft carrier "Lexington", which had been assigned the task of penetrating enemy-held waters north of New Ireland. While still 450 miles from the harbor at Rabaul, at 1015, the "Lexington" picked up an unknown aircraft on radar 35 miles from the ship. A six-plane combat patrol was launched, two fighters being directed to investigate the contact. These two planes, under command of Lieutenant Commander Thach shot down a four-engined Kawanishi H6K4 Type 97 ("Mavis") flying boat about 43 miles out at 1112. Later two other planes of the combat patrol were sent to another radar contact 35 miles ahead, shooting down a second "Mavis" at 1202. A third contact was made 80 miles out, but reversed course and disappeared. At 1542 a jagged vee signal drew the attention of the "Lex's" radar operator. The contact then was lost, but reappeared at 1625 forty-seven miles west and closing fast. Butch O'Hare, flying F4F Wildcat BuNo 4031 "White F-15", was one of several pilots launched to intercept. Of the incoming nine Japanese Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" bombers from "2. Chutai" of "4. Kokutai" [Shores, Cull, Izawa, p. 186-188] , at this time five had already been shot down.

At 1649, the "Lexington's" radar picked up a second formation of "Bettys" from "1. Chutai" of "4. Kokutai" [Shores, Cull, Izawa, p. 186-189] only 12 miles out, on the [Ewing and Lundstrom 1987, p. 129.] disengaged side of the task force, completely unopposed. The carrier had only two Wildcats left to confront the intruders: Butch and his wingman "Duff" Dufilho. As the "Lexington"’s only protection, they raced eastward and arrived 1,500 feet above eight attacking "Bettys" nine miles out at 1700. Dufilho’s guns were jammed and wouldn’t fire, leaving only O'Hare to protect the carrier. The enemy formation was a V of Vs flying very close together and using their rear facing guns for mutual protection. O'Hare's Wildcat, armed with four 50-caliber guns, with 450 rounds per gun, had enough ammunition for about 34 seconds of firing.

O'Hare's initial maneuver was a high-side diving attack employing accurate deflection shooting. He accurately placed bursts of gunfire into a "Betty's" right engine [Shores, Cull, Izawa, p. 189] and wing fuel tanks; when the stricken craft of "Nitō Hikō Heisō" Tokiharu Baba ("3. Shotai") [Shores, Cull, Izawa, p. 188-189] on the right side of the formation abruptly lurched to starboard, he ducked to the other side of the V formation and aimed at the enemy bomber of "Ittō Hikō Heisō" Bin Mori ("3. Shotai") [Shores, Cull, Izawa, p. 188-189] on the extreme left. When he made his third and fourth firing passes, the Japanese planes were close enough to the American ships for them to fire their anti-aircraft guns. The five survivors managed to drop their ordnance, but all ten 250kg bombs missed [Shores, Cull, Izawa, p. 191] . O'Hare's hits were so concentrated, the nacelle of a "Betty" literally jumped out of its mountings, after O'Hare blew up the leading "Shōsa" Takuzo Ito's "Betty's" port engine. O'Hare believed he had shot down five bombers, and damage a sixth. Lieutenant Commander Thach arrived at the scene with other pilots of the flight, later reporting that at one point he saw three of the enemy bombers falling in flames at the same time. [ [http://www.acepilots.com/usn_ohare.html "Acepilots: Saving the "Lexington"] ]

In fact, O'Hare destroyed only three "Bettys": "Nitō Hikō Heisō" Tokiharu Baba's from "3. Shotai", "Ittō Hikō Heisō" Susumu Uchiyama's (flying at left wing of the leading V, "1. Shotai") and the leader of the formation, "Shōsa" Takuzo Ito's. This last (flying on the head of leading V) "Betty's" left engine was hit at the time it dropped its ordinance. Its pilot "Hikō Heisōchō" Chuzo Watanabe [Commanding officer Takuzo Ito wasn't piloting his own "Betty". The pilot was of lowest rank and the commander of the plane was an observer and/or navigator. That was common practice in the IJNAF.] tried to hit "Lexington" with damaged plane. He missed and run into the water near "Lexington" at 1712. Another two "Bettys" were damaged by O'Hare's attacks. "Ittō Hikō Heisō" Kodji Maeda ("2. Shotai", left wing of V) safely landed at Vunakanau airdrome and "Ittō Hikō Heisō" Bin Mori was later shot down by LT Noel Gayler ("White F-1", VF-3) when trying to escape 40 miles from "Lexington". [Shores, Cull, Izawa, p. 188-191]

With his ammunition expended, O'Hare returned to his carrier, and was fired on accidentally but with no effect by a .50-caliber machine gun from the "Lexington". O'Hare's fighter had, in fact, been hit by only one bullet during his flight, the single bullet hole in F-15's port wing disabling the airspeed indicator. According to Thach, Butch then approached the gun platform to calmly say to the embarrassed anti-aircraft gunner who had fired at him, "Son, if you don't stop shooting at me when I've got my wheels down, I'm going to have to report you to the gunnery officer." [Ewing and Lundstrom 1987, p. 138.]

Thach calculated that O'Hare had used only sixty rounds of ammunition for each bomber he destroyed; an impressive feat of marksmanship. In the opinion of Admiral Brown and of Captain Frederick C. Sherman, commanding the "Lexington", Lieutenant O'Hare's actions may have saved the carrier from serious damage or even loss. By 1900 all "Lexington" planes had been recovered except for two F4F-3 Wildcats shot down while attacking enemy bombers; both were lost while making steady, no-deflection runs from astern of their targets. The pilot of one fighter was rescued, the other went down with his aircraft.

The "Lexington" returned after the New Guinea raid to Pearl Harbor for repairs and to have her [ [http://www.users.bigpond.com/pacificwar/Yorktown/JudsonBrodie/SouthPacific.html "Yorktown in the South Pacific - Yorktown patrols the Coral Sea"] ] obsolete 8-inch guns removed, transferring some of her F4F-3 fighter planes to the USS "Yorktown" (CV-5) including BuNo 4031 "White F-15" that O'Hare had flown during his famous mission. The pilot assigned to fly this aircraft to "Yorktown" was admonished by O'Hare just before take off to take good care of his plane. Moments later, the fighter unsuccessfully took off, rolling down the deck and into the water; the pilot was recovered, but "White F-15" was lost.

Accolades

On March 26, Butch was greeted at Pearl Harbor by a horde of reporters and radio announcers. During a radio broadcast in Honolulu, he enjoyed the opportunity to say hello to Rita "("Here's a great big radio hug, the best I can do under the circumstances")" and to his mother "("Love from me to you")".Ewing and Lundstrom 1987, p. 151.] On April 8, he thanked the Grumman Aircraft Corporation plant at Bethpage (where the F4F Wildcat was made) for 1,150 cartons of Lucky Strike cigarettes, a grand total of 230,000 smokes. Ecstatic Grumman workers had passed the hat to buy the cigarettes in appreciation of O'Hare's combat victories in one of their F4F Wildcats. A loyal Camel smoker, Butch opened a carton, deciding that it was the least he could do for the good people back in Bethpage. In his letter to the Grumman employees he wrote, "You build them, we'll fly them and between us, we can't be beaten." It was a sentiment he would voice often in the following two months.

By shooting down five bombers O'Hare became a flying ace, was selected for promotion to Lieutenant Commander, and became the first naval aviator to be awarded the Medal of Honor. With President Franklin D. Roosevelt looking on, O'Hare's wife Rita placed the Medal around his neck. After receiving the Medal of Honor from President Franklin D. Roosevelt, then-LT O'Hare was described as "modest, inarticulate, humorous, terribly nice and more than a little embarrassed by the whole thing"." [Aviation History magazine, November 1995]

Official Citation

"For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in aerial combat, at grave risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, as section leader and pilot of Fighting Squadron 3 on February 20, 1942. Having lost the assistance of his teammates, Lieutenant O'Hare interposed his fighter between his ship and an advancing enemy formation of 9 attacking twin-engine heavy bombers. Without hesitation, alone and unaided, he repeatedly attacked this enemy formation, at close range in the face of intense combined machine gun and cannon fire. Despite this concentrated opposition, Lieutenant O'Hare, by his gallant and courageous action, his extremely skillful marksmanship in making the most of every shot of his limited amount of ammunition, shot down 5 enemy bombers and severely damaged a sixth before they reached the bomb release point. As a result of his gallant action--one of the most daring, if not the most daring, single action in the history of combat aviation--he undoubtedly saved his carrier from serious damage." [In 1942 O'Hare and the U.S. Navy thought that nine planes constituted the second wave, but actually there were only eight, as Japanese war records are showing. In addition to this, the Japanese Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" bomber was only a medium bomber, not a heavy bomber, as stated wrong in the MOH citation.]

O'Hare received further decorations later in 1943 [ [http://www.homeofheroes.com/myhero/LCDR_Edward_Henry_Butch_OHare.html homeofheroes.com article on decorations] ] for actions in battles near Marcus Island in August and subsequent missions near Wake Island in October.

Non-combat duty

O'Hare was not employed on combat duty from early 1942 until late 1943. Important events in this period included flying an F4F-3A Wildcat (BuNo 3986 "White F-13") as Lieutenant Commander Jimmy Thach's wingman for publicity footage on April 11, 1942, the Medal of Honor presentation at the White House on April 21, and the welcome parade in O'Hare's hometown on Saturday, April 25, 1942.

The welcome parade was held in St. Louis. At the starting point, O'Hare, wearing the impressive blue-ribboned Medal of Honor around his neck, was guided to the back seat of a black open Packard Phaeton, where he sat between his wife Rita and his mother Selma. The parade began at noon, led by a police motorcycle escort, then came the band from Jefferson Barracks, marching veterans, a truck packed with photographers, O'Hare's Phaeton (with a six-man Marine honor guard alongside) and other open cars. Bringing up the rear was the entire 350-member student body of Western Military Academy. St. Louis Mayor William Dee Becker presented O'Hare with a gold navigator's four-dial watch engraved with the words "To Lt. Commander Edward H. O'Hare, USN, from a proud and grateful City of St. Louis, April 25, 1942". [ Ewing and Lundstrom 1987, p. 163.] As Butch O'Hare's mother and his sisters clipped newspaper stories and photos the following days, his place in history began to dawn on them. A newspaper headline read, "60,000 give O'Hare a hero's welcome here." The United States in 1942 badly needed a live hero, and Butch O'Hare was a young, handsome naval aviator, so he participated in several war bond tours the following months.

On June 19, 1942 O'Hare assumed command of VF-3, relieving Lieutenant Commander Thach. [ [http://www.leisuregalleries.com/oharedoc1.html Copy of original document, "The Commander, VF-3"] ] He was relocated to Maui, Hawaii, to instruct other pilots in combat tactics. U.S. Navy policy was to use its best combat pilots to train newer pilots, in contrast to the Japanese practice of keeping their best pilots flying combat missions. Ensign Edward L. "Whitey" Feightner, who served with O'Hare in July 1942, later said [ [http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3897/is_199904/ai_n8838204 "Flight Journal April 1999: Memoirs from an aviator's logbook"] ] that one of the best pieces of information O'Hare passed on to him, was "If you ever jump one of these Zeros and you surprise him, remember, the first thing he's going to do is a loop. Don't follow him into it! By the time you go into it a second time, he'll be behind you. The first thing you should do when he starts up the loop is make a hard right turn and keep turning. You'll come right around, and when he bottoms out of the loop, you'll be right on his tail!" O'Hare also related "First of all, remember, in today's world, whenever you take off and engage the enemy, you're going to be outnumbered. If you want to survive this War, you have to look behind you every chance you get. Even when you pull the trigger, be sure to look behind because there's gonna be someone back there."

An anecdote about O'Hare, serving as an instructor on Hawaii mid-1942: [April 1999 "Flight Journal" article "8 A.M., JULY 1942, MAUI. Swimming and serving with Butch O'Hare", personal memoirs of RADM (USN Ret.) Edward L. Feightner.]

:"(O'Hare) was a great swimmer and spear fisherman, and he insisted that the squadron swim with him. Swimming with Butch O'Hare meant that at eight o'clock in the morning, you swam out into the ocean off Maui; he would still be out there at three in the afternoon! If he got hungry, Butch would roll over and dive, and the next thing you knew, he would come up with a fish of some sort. Then he'd just roll over and lie on his back like an otter and eat the thing raw! He really impressed us with that! One day, he came back to the surface with an octopus draped over his arm. He said, 'Now, you have to learn how to kill these things, boys: you bite 'em right behind the eye.' And with that, he chomped down! The octopus has some sort of spinal cord there, and biting it there does kill it! Then we had to go back to the beach where Butch would put these things in a frying pan with a little oil and some salt and stir them around. He enjoyed them, but they tasted like old rubber tires to me!"On March 2, 1943, Butch met Rita and hugged his one-month-old daughter, Kathleen, for the first time. At the end of March 1943, O'Hare made Ensign Alexander Vraciu, a young Naval Reservist just out of flight school, his wingman. On July 15, 1943, VF-3 swapped designations with VF-6 squadron.

Return to combat

Equipped with the highly successful follow-on to the Wildcat, the new Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat, two-thirds of VF-6 (twenty-four F6F-3s) under Butch O'Hare's command embarked on August 22, 1943 on the light carrier USS "Independence" (CVL-22). [ [http://www.herschpahlbooks.com/album/35.shtml "Butch O'Hare from Stars & Stripes '43 while reforming his new squadron"] ] The arrival of the F6Fs with their powerful Pratt & Whitney R-2800 radial engines in late 1943 combined with the deployment of the new "Essex" class carriers and the "Independence" class carriers immediately gave the U.S. Pacific Fleet air supremacy wherever the Fast Carrier Force operated. The Hellcat's first combat mission occurred on August 31, 1943, in a strike against Marcus Island. The F6F did well against Japanese fighters, and proved that with the right tactics and teamwork the Japanese Zero need not be considered a superior enemy. VF-6's combat debut on the "Independence" also went reasonably well. For his actions in battles near Marcus Island on August 31, 1943, O'Hare was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. [ [http://www.herschpahlbooks.com/album/24.shtml "O'Hare and his Division for Sept '43 raid on Marcus Island"] ] For his actions in subsequent missions near Wake Island on October 5, 1943, O'Hare was awarded a Gold Star in lieu of a second Distinguished Flying Cross. [ [http://www.flychicago.com/events/KidsPage2006/OHareBiography.shtm Flychicago: "Citation: Gold Star in lieu of second DFC"] ] torpedo planes and 100 pilots.

Now overseeing three squadrons, O'Hare still insisted that everyone call him "Butch." O'Hare's VF-6 squadron would "still stay broken up" among three light aircraft carriers, the squadron had made itself just too useful filling out the light carrier air groups, and AirPac had no well-trained replacements on hand. As a result, Fighting Squadron Two (VF-2) boarded the USS "Enterprise" from November 1943 and became now Butch's new Fighting Squadron. While he readied his new air group, he suffered what he intended as only a temporary separation from his beloved VF-6 "Felix the Cat" Squadron. The news, that the CO had to leave them, hit also the men of VF-6 hard. O'Hare first flew a TBM-1 Avenger as CAG-6 command aircraft with bombardier Del Delchamps, AOM1/c and radioman Hal Coleman as crew members. With its good radio facilities, docile handling, and long range, the Grumman Avenger made an ideal command aircraft for Air Group Commanders (CAGs), but Butch considered the Grumman torpedo bomber as a 'lame turkey' compared to the Grumman F6F fighter.

Later Rear Admiral Radford honored a request from O'Hare to take a fighter as command aircraft instead of the Avenger, so O'Hare in a fateful decision happily drew Grumman F6F-3 Hellcat Bureau Number 66168 from the fleet pool to become his principal CAG plane, numbered "00". [ Ewing and Lundstrom 1987, p. 221.] From 20-November 23, 1943, the U.S. forces landed in the Gilberts (Tarawa and Makin), and the "Enterprise" joined in providing close air support to the Marines landing on Makin Island. Equipped with the Grumman F6F Hellcat, the U.S. Navy fighter pilots owned the skies and could protect the fleet from attacking Japanese aircraft.

Mission into Darkness

technology. Radars were carried only on the roomy TBF Avengers, but not on the smaller and faster Hellcats, so the radar-equipped TBF Avenger would lead the Hellcats into position behind the incoming bombers, close enough for the F6F pilots to spot visually the blue exhaust flames of the Japanese bombers. Finally, the Hellcats would close in and shoot down the torpedo-carrying bombers.

One of the four 'Bat Team' fighter pilots to conduct this experimental night fighter operations to intercept and destroy enemy bombers attacking Allied landing forces was then-LT Roy Marlin Voris, who after the war founded and commanded the Navy's flight demonstration squadron, the Blue Angels.

On the night of November 26, 1943, the "Enterprise" introduced the experiment in the co-operative control of Avengers and Hellcats for night fighting, when the three-plane team from the ship broke up a large group of land-based bombers attacking Task Group TG 50.2. O'Hare volunteered to lead this mission to conduct the first-ever Navy nighttime fighter attack from an aircraft carrier to intercept a large force of enemy torpedo bombers. When the call came to man the fighters, Butch O'Hare was eating. He grabbed up part of his supper in his fist and started running for the ready room. He was dressed in loose marine coveralls. The night fighter unit consisting of 1 VT and 2 VF was catapulted between 1758 and 1801. The pilots for this flight were Butch O'Hare and Ensign Warren Andrew "Andy" Skon of VF-2 in F6Fs and the Squadron Commander of VT-6, LCDR John C. Phillips [ [http://www.cv6.org/noumea/default.asp?uri=detail/awo-img-z--1000119 LCMDR. John Phillips] ] in a TBF1-C. The crew of the TBF torpedo plane consisted on LTJG Hazen B. Rand, a radar specialist and Alvin Kernan, A. B., AOM1/c. The 'Black Panthers', as the night fighters were dubbed, took off before dusk and flew out into the incoming mass of Japanese planes.

Confusion and complications endangered the success of the mission. The Hellcats first had trouble finding the Avenger, the FDO had difficulty guiding any of them on the targets. O'Hare and Ensign W. Skon in their F6F Hellcats finally got into position behind the Avenger. Butch O'Hare had been well aware of the deadly danger of friendly fire in this situation - he radioed to the Avenger Pilot of his section, "Hey, Phil, turn those running lights on. I want to be sure it's a yellow devil I'm drilling." [ [http://www.cv6.org/news/43-11.htm "Enterprise CV-6 News & Bulletins - November 1943"] ]

O'Hare was last seen at the 5 o'clock position of the TBF. About that time, the turret gunner of the TBF, Alvin Kernan (AOM1/c) noticed a Japanese G4M "Betty" bomber above and almost directly behind O'Hare's 6 o'clock position. [ [http://img333.imageshack.us/img333/4408/tbfturret6if.jpgPhoto of TBF turret gun] ] Kernan opened fire with the TBF's .50-cal. machine gun in the dorsal turret and a Japanese gunner fired back. Butch O'Hare's F6F Hellcat apparently was caught in a crossfire. Seconds later Butch's F6F slid out of formation to port, pushing slightly ahead at about 160 knots and then vanished in the dark. The Avenger pilot, Lieutenant Commander Phillips, called repeatedly to O'Hare but received no reply. Ensign Skon responded: [Ewing and Lundstrom 1987, p. 282.] "Mr. Phillips, this is Skon. I saw Mr. O'Hare's lights go out and, at the same instant, he seemed to veer off and slant down into darkness." Phillips later asserted, as the Hellcat dropped out of view, it seemed to release something drop almost vertically at a speed too slow for anything but a parachute. Then something "whitish-gray" appeared below, perhaps the splash of the aircraft plunging into the sea.

Lieutenant Commander Phillips reported the position (1°26' north latitude, 171°56' east longitude) to the ship. After dawn a three-plane search was made, but no trace of O'Hare or his aircraft was found. On November 29 a PBY Catalina flying boat also conducted a search with no positive result, and O'Hare was reported missing in action. [ [http://www.cv6.org/news/43-11.htm cv6.org article] ]

For 54 years there was no definitive answer as to whether he had been brought down by friendly fire or the Japanese bomber's nose gunner. In 1997 the publication of the primary source for this article, "Fateful Rendezvous: The Life of Butch O'Hare", by Steve Ewing and John B. Lundstrom (see References below) shed new light. Ewing and Lundstrom very clearly state, more than once, that Japanese guns, and not Kernan's, killed Butch O'Hare.

In Chapter 16, "What Happened to Butch," the authors write, "Butch fell to his old familiar adversary, a Betty. Most likely he died from, or was immediately disabled by, a lucky shot from the forward observer crouched in the "rikko's" [Betty's] forward glassed-in nose...the nose gunner's 7.7mm slugs very likely penetrated Butch's cockpit from above on the port side and ahead of the F6F's armor plate." [Ewing and Lundstrom 1987, p. 289.] In the Index, Ewing and Lundstrom flatly state that Kernan is "wrongly accused of shooting down Butch." [Ewing and Lundstrom 1987]

Why the confusion for so many years? Ewing and Lundstrom point out that the "most influential and oft-cited" account of O'Hare's last mission came in a 1962 history of the "Enterprise" by CDR Edward P. Stafford, which relied on action reports and recollections of former "Enterprise" crew, but did not contain interviews with any of the living participants. By contrast, Ewing and Lundstrom came to their conclusions on what happened to Butch after interviewing the still living survivors of O’Hare’s last mission: F6F pilot Skon, TBF radar officer Rand, and TBF gunner Kernan. Ewing and Lundstrom write, "Through Stafford and other accounts based largely on the action reports, Butch has wrongly become known as one of America's most famous "friendly fire" casualties." [Ewing and Lundstrom 1987, p. 290-291.] On December 9, official word arrived that O'Hare was missing in action. His mother Selma left for San Diego to be with his wife Rita and his daughter Kathleen. LCDR Bob Jackson wrote Rita O'Hare from the "Enterprise" to describe the extensive but unsuccessful search for her husband. In the letter, LCDR Jackson quoted RADM Arthur W. Radford saying of Butch O'Hare that he "never saw one individual so universally liked." [ [http://www.stlmag.com/media/St-Louis-Magazine/July-2005/The-Butch-OHare-Story St-Louis-Magazine, July 2005] ] The hardest thing O'Hare's former wingman LT Alex Vraciu had to do was to talk to O'Hare's wife Rita after returning stateside. [Alex Vraciu as a guest speaker at the [http://www.goldengatewing.org/proptalk/speaker.cfm?ID=48 "Golden Gate Wing monthly dinner meeting"] of the Commemorative Air Force on February 22, 2001.] On December 20, 1943, a Solemn Pontifical Mass of Requiem was offered for Butch O'Hare at the St. Louis Cathedral. [ [http://www.stlmag.com/media/St-Louis-Magazine/July-2005/The-Butch-OHare-Story/ "St. Louis Magazine - The Butch OHare Story, by Larry Offner"] ]

As O'Hare went missing on November 26, 1943, and was declared dead a year later, his widow Rita received her husband's posthumous decorations, a Purple Heart and the Navy Cross on November 26, 1944.

In 1945 the U.S. Navy destroyer USS O'Hare (DD-889) was named in O'Hare's honor. As a tribute to Butch O'Hare, on September 19, 1949, the Chicago-area Orchard Depot Airport was renamed O'Hare International Airport. The same month, O'Hare's name was engraved on the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific "Wall of the Missing" [ [http://www.homeofheroes.com/gravesites/states/images_go/ohare_edward_hi.jpg"Wall of the Missing"] ] in Honolulu. In March 1963, President John F. Kennedy did a wreath-laying ceremony at O'Hare Airport [ [http://www.encyclopedia.chicagohistory.org/pages/3286.html JFK at wreath-laying ceremony] ] to honor Butch O'Hare. The Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum is honoring O'Hare with an F4F-3A on display and a plaque [ [http://img287.imageshack.us/img287/3537/patriotspointohare9if.jpgPlaque USS "Yorktown" CV-10 association] ] dedicated by the USS "Yorktown" CV-10 association, "May Butch O'Hare rest in peace..."

ee also

*List of Medal of Honor recipients
*Well-known aviators
*Edward J. O'Hare

References

;Notes ;Bibliography
*"Air Classics", May 2003.
* [http://img79.imageshack.us/img79/2152/airclassicsghostofthelake4zr.jpgAir Classics Ghost of the Lake cover]
*Ewing, Steve and Lundstrom, John B. "Fateful Rendezvous: The Life of Butch O'Hare". Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1997. ISBN 1-55750-247-1.
* [http://img207.imageshack.us/img207/8702/fatefulrendezvous3gv.jpgFateful Rendezvous cover]
* [http://img291.imageshack.us/img291/562/thefirstteamnk9.jpgThe First Team cover]
*Lundstrom, John B. "The First Team: Pacific Naval Air Combat from Pearl Harbor to Midway". Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1984. ISBN 0-87021-189-7
*Reynolds, Clark G. "The Carrier War" (Time-Life Epic of Flight series). Alexandria, VA: Time-Life Books, 1982, ISBN 0-80943-304-4.
*"Edward Butch O'Hare." "Legends of Airpower" DVD, Episode #309. Frederick, MD: 3 Roads Communications, Inc., 2003.
* [http://img68.imageshack.us/img68/3098/f4f3f3flyable6vp.jpgRestored F4F-3 painted in the markings of Edward O'Hare used in April 1942 for shooting publicity footage]
* [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,932631,00.html "TIME Magazine", December 20, 1943 (Vol. XLII No. 25) "World Battlefronts: Butch O’Hare"]
*Shores, Christopher & Cull, Brian & Izawa, Yasuho "Krvavá jatka II". Plzeň, Czech Republic: Mustang, 1995, ISBN 80-85831-73-2 (Czech translation of English "BLOODY SHAMBLES VOLUME TWO: The Complete Account of the Air War in the Far East, from the Defence of Sumatra to the Fall of Burma, 1942")

External links

* [http://www.acepilots.com/usn_ohare.html Edward "Butch" O’Hare - WWII Ace 2003]
* [http://cbs2chicago.com/specialreports/local_story_239215151.html O'Hare Namesake's Heroic Career Took Off In WW II] Access date: September 2, 2006.
*findagrave|18251 Retrieved on 2006-05-06
* [http://www.homeofheroes.com/myhero/LCDR_Edward_Henry_Butch_OHare.html LCDR Edward Henry "Butch" O'Hare] Access date: March 8, 2006.
* [http://www.medalofhonor.com/ButchOHare.htm World War II Medal of Honor Recipient Lt. Commander Edward Henry "Butch"' O'Hare] Access date: March 8, 2006.
* [http://www.ohare.com/doa/kids_center/Games/butchohare.htm Butch O'Hare Quiz] Access date: March 8, 2006
* [http://www.snopes.com/glurge/ohare.htm Empire of the Son] Access date: November 29, 2004.
* [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yEKJgPewG6Y "A St. Louis Profile" - Videobiography of O'Hare by Producer J. Kirchherr (25min)] Access date: July 25, 2008.


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