A Story by Lea Sheryn
Young Billy Harris is assigned by his teacher, Miss Flynn, to write a composition about his hero. He decides to write about Edward "Butch" O'Hare
5th Grade Class
April 27, 1952
By Billy Harris
My hero is Edward “Butch” O’Hare.
The only son of Edward and Selma Ann O’Hare, Edward was born on March 13, 1914 in St. Louis, Missouri. His mother and father got a divorce in 1927. Butch lived with his mother and sisters in St. Louis but his father moved to Chicago.
Can you believe his father worked for Al Capone? Gee Willikers, Miss Flynn, can you imagine actually working for Scarface? Well, Butch’s father did and he was a lawyer and everything. Mr. O’Hare was a good guy and, when he realized Capone was breaking the law by not paying his taxes, he helped the government put him away. I guess even bad things happen to good guys because Mr. O’Hare was shot dead in his car in November of 1939, right before Al Capone got out of jail.
Well, back to Butch O’Hare because he really is my hero and you asked the class to write a composition about a hero. So I have to write about him now.
At first, Butch went to Western Military Academy. When he graduated in 1932, he went on to the Naval Academy in Annapolis until 1937. Annapolis is in Maryland, in case you didn’t know, Miss Flynn. Next he went for flight training in Pensacola, Florida at NAS. NAS means Naval Air Station. He learned how to do aerobatics and gunnery. His training was completed on May 2, 1940.
Edward O’Hare married a wife in Phoenix, Arizona on September 6, 1941. Her name was Rita Wooster. Their honeymoon was in Hawaii but it was cut short when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Butch was called to duty.
On February 20th, 1942, Lieutenant Commander Edward “Butch” O’Hare became the Navy’s first Flying Ace. He single-handedly shot down several enemy bombers with limited ammunition. He was the first Naval recipient of the Medal of Honor. That made him a genuine War Hero. There was a reception at the White House for him (President Franklin Roosevelt was there and everything) and a parade in his hometown of St. Louis AND he got to go on a War Bond tour around the country. People loved him because he was a young, handsome and a hero.
Lieutenant Commander Edward “Butch” O’Hare flew in many successful missions until, on November 26, 1943, he gave his life while fighting for our country. The Japanese shot down his Grumman F6F Hellcat over the Pacific. His body was never found. He died a World War II hero. One year later, his widow, Rita O’Hare, accepted a Purple Heart and Navy Cross in his honor.
Other awards were presented later on. The Navy named in his honor, "USS O’Hare", a Gearing-class Destroyer in January of 1945. Most memorable of all, in Chicago, the Orchard Depot Airport was renamed O’Hare.
And do you know what, Miss Flynn? As soon as I’m old enough, I’m going to join the Navy and become a pilot just like Butch O’Hare.