Butch O'Hare

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Butch O'Hare (St. Louis 1914-1943) was a fighter pilot hero and the first flying Ace of the Navy. O'Hare was honored by naming one of the most-frequently traveled airports after him, in Chicago.

A tremendous marksman with the utmost bravery, O'Hare was instrumental to American success in the Pacific theater against Japan during World War II. On February 20, 1942, O'Hare's fighter plane confronted nine Japanese Mitsubishi G4M "Betty" bombers on the verge of sinking the U.S. aircraft carrier Lexington. O'Hare courageously attacked the V-shaped formation of the bombers directly, despite how his wingman's guns had jammed.

O'Hare maneuvered and fired with unprecedented precision and downed five of the Japanese bombers, including three of them nearly simultaneously. O'Hare's Wildcat fighter plane had ammunition for only 34 seconds of firing, but used it remarkably efficiently. As O'Hare ultimately ran out of ammunition, reinforcements arrived and the U.S. aircraft carrier was saved from being bombed and sunk. O'Hare became the first Congressional Medal of Honor recipient for World War II.

He tragically died in another battle in the Pacific in 1943.

See also