During World War II, Lt. Commander Butch O’Hare served as a fighter pilot on the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific. On February 20, 1942, his entire squadron was sent on a mission. Once airborne, he noticed someone had neglected to top off his fuel tank. This meant he would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and return to the ship. He was ordered to return to the carrier and reluctantly headed back to the fleet. On his way back a horrified O’Hare discovered a squadron of Japanese bombers approaching the defenseless American Fleet. He couldn’t reach his squadron in time to bring them back, nor could he warn the fleet of the approach danger. Putting aside all thoughts of personal safety, he single-handedly attacked the Japanese planes. He fired at as many planes as possible, breaking up their formation and downing five enemy bombers. After his ammunition was spent, he continued to dive at the planes, hoping to clip off a wing or tail. He was desperate to keep the attackers from the fleet. Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron broke off the engagement and headed for home. For this action he became the Navy’s first air ace of World War II and the first navy aviator to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. A year later he was killed in action at age 29. Chicago’s O’Hare Airport was named in his honor. A Hellcat fighter like the one he flew is hanging from the ceiling in the concourse.
Some years earlier, another Chicagoan was known for less honorable exploits. Al Capone was notorious for bootlegging, prostitution and murder. Capone had a very skilled lawyer named Easy Eddie who kept big Al out of trouble. He was so good at it, Capone gave him big money and a large estate complete with live-in help. Eddie lived the high life with little concern for the atrocities that paid for it. Eddie had a son who he cherished dearly. He saw to it that his son had the best of everything. Despite the way he made a living, Eddie wanted his son to have strong moral values and to be a better man than himself. Two things that Eddie could not pass on to his son were a good name and a good example. Eddie realized these two things were more important than all the wealth he could lavish on him. One day, Eddie went to the police and decided to testify against Capone. He knew the cost would be great, but it was worth it to him. He wanted to give his son a good name, to rectify all the wrong he had done. Within the year, Eddie was shot dead in the street. He had given his son his greatest gift at the greatest cost. Butch O’Hare was Easy Eddie’s son.