Life Is Funny That Way

Courtesy of Margie Keane
Author Unknown—A True Story

chicago airport

 

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 nicknamed “Easy Eddie.” He was Capone’s lawyer for a good reason. Eddie was very good! In fact, his skill at legal maneuvering kept Big Al 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 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 atrocity that went on 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 the best clothes, cars, and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Money was no object.

And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach him right from wrong. Eddie wanted his son to be better 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 reached a difficult decision. He wanted to rectify wrongs he had done. He decided to go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al “Scarface” Capone, clean up his tarnished name, and offer his son some semblance of integrity. To do this, he would have to testify against The Mob, and he knew that the cost would be great.

Within the year, Easy Eddie’s life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago street. He had given his son the greatest gift he had to offer at the greatest price he could ever pay.

Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, and a clipping from a magazine. It read: “The clock of life is wound but once and no man has the power to tell just when the hands will stop, at late or early hour. Now is the only time you own. Live, love, toil with a will. Place no faith in time. For the clock may soon be still.”

* * *

. . . And now the rest of the story:

World War II produced many heroes. One was Lieutenant Commander Butch O’Hare. He was a fighter pilot assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Lexington in the South Pacific.

One day his squadron was sent on a mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that someone had neglected to top off his fuel tank. He would not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship.

His flight leader told O’Hare to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet. As he was returning to the ship, he saw something that turned his blood cold; a formation of Japanese aircraft was speeding its way toward the American fleet.

The American fighters were out of communication range, and the fleet was all but defenseless. He couldn’t reach his squadron and bring them back in time to save the ship. Nor could he warn them of the approaching danger. There was only one thing to do. He must divert them from his fleet.

Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, O’Hare dove into the formation of Japanese planes. The wing-mounted 50 caliber blazed as he charged in, attacking one surprised enemy plane and then another.

Butch wove in and out of the now broken formation and fired at as many planes as he could until all his ammunition was spent. Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at planes, clipping a wing or tail, damaging as many planes as possible, rendering them unable to stay in the air.

Finally, the wounded Japanese squadron took off in another direction. Butch O’Hare and his battered fighter limped back to the carrier.

Upon landing, he reported in and related the event surrounding his return. The film from his gun-camera mounted on his plane told the real tale. It showed the extent of Butch’s daring attempt to protect his fleet. He had, in fact, destroyed five enemy aircraft

This took place on February 20, 1942, and for his action, Butch became the Navy’s first Ace of WWII, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Medal of Honor. A year later, at the age of 29, Butch O’Hare was killed in aerial combat.

His home town, however, would not allow the memory of this WW II hero to fade, and today, O’Hare Airport in Chicago is named in tribute to the courage of this courageous man. So, the next time you find yourself at O’Hare International, give some thought to visiting his memorial displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor. It’s located between Terminals 1 and 2. 

So what do these two true stories have in common? Air Commander Butch O’Hare was “Easy Eddie’s” son.

 

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