Many years ago, Al Capone virtually owned Chicago. Capone wasn’t famous for anything heroic. He was notorious for enmeshing the windy city in everything from bootlegged booze and prostitution to murder.
Capone had a lawyer named “Easy Eddie.” He was Capone’s lawyer for a good reason. Eddie was very good. In fact Eddie’s skill at legal maneuvering kept Capone out of jail for a long time.
To show his appreciation, Capone paid him very well. Not only was the money big, but Eddie got special dividends as well. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all of the conveniences of the day. The estate was so large that it filled an entire Chicago City block. Eddie lived the high life of the Chicago mob and gave little consideration to the atrocities that went around him.
Eddie did have one soft spot however. He had a son whom he loved dearly. Eddie saw to it that his young son had everything that he wanted…..clothes, cars and a good education. Nothing was held back. Price was not an issue. And despite Eddie’s involvement with organized crime, he taught his son right from wrong. He wanted his son to be a better man than he was. Yet, with all his wealth and influence, there were two things he couldn’t give his son; he couldn’t pass on a good name or a good example.
One day, Easy Eddie made a difficult decision. He wanted to make amends and rectify the wrongs that he had done. He decided he would go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al Capone, clean up his tarnished name and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this, he had to testify against Capone and The Mob, and he knew the cost would be great. But he testified!
Within the year, Easy Eddie’s life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago Street. But in his eyes he had given his son the greatest gift he could offer, at the greatest price he could ever pay. From the dead man’s pocket, police removed a rosary, crucifix, a religious medallion and a poem clipped from a magazine.
World War II produced many heroes. One such man was Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare. He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier in the South Pacific.
One day his entire squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had forgotten to fill up his fuel tank. With not enough fuel, he knew he would not be able to get back to his ship after completing his mission.
When his flight leader heard this piece of news, he immediately ordered him to return. Reluctantly, O’Hare dropped out of formation and headed back to the carrier. As he was returning to the mother-ship, he saw something that made his blood cold; a squadron of Japanese aircraft was speeding its way through the clouds towards the American Fleet!
He couldn’t reach his squadron in time or bring them back to save the fleet. Nor could he warn the fleet of the approaching danger. There was only one thing to do; he must somehow divert the Japanese aircrafts from the fleet.
Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove directly into the formation of the Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50-calibres blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane after the other. O’Hare wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as possible until he ran out of all his ammunition! Undaunted, he continued his assault, diving at the planes, hoping to clip a wing or a tail to cause as much damage as possible, and render them unfit to fly.
Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron retreated and took off in another direction. Deeply relieved, O’Hare and his battled scarred aircraft flew back to the carrier. Upon arrival, he reported in and related the drama surrounding his return. The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the tale. It showed the extent of O’Hare’s daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had in fact destroyed 5 enemy aircrafts.
This incident took place on 20th February 1942. For his bravery, Butch O’Hare was recognized as the American Navy’s first Ace Pilot of World War II. He was also the first Naval Aviator to earn the Congressional Medal of Honour.
A year later at the age of 29, O’Hare was killed in an aerial combat. His hometown would not allow the memory of the World War II hero to simply fade away. Today, O’Hare International Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this great man.
In case you are wondering what these 2 stories have to do with each other………… Butch O’Hare was ‘Easy’ Eddie’s son.