Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Chicago is my kind of town as the Man Frank Sinatra sings. Yet like many I was unaware of the history of this bustling airport. I am mortified that a curious individual like me never stopped to wonder.

Yesterday I received the following two stories, and thought you would enjoy reading them. Perhaps these two stories will serve as my Apologia.

You may have read them before, but it wouldn’t hurt to read them again.


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, Eddie's 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 also, Eddie got special dividends. 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 on around him. Eddie did have one soft spot, however. He had a son that he loved dearly. Eddie saw to it that his young son had clothes, cars, and a good education. Nothing was withheld. Price 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 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 reached a difficult decision. Easy Eddie wanted to rectify the wrongs he had done. He decided he would 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. So, 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 had to offer, at the greatest price he could ever pay. Police removed from his pockets a rosary, a crucifix, a religious medallion, and a poem clipped from a magazine.

The poem 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".


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 the USS Lexington 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 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 him to return to the carrier. Reluctantly, he dropped out of formation and headed back to the fleet. As he was returning to the mother ship he saw something that turned his blood cold: a squadron of Japanese aircraft was speeding its way toward the American fleet.

The American fighters were gone on a sortie, and the fleet was all but defenseless. He couldn't reach his squadron and bring them back in time 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 them from the fleet.

Laying aside all thoughts of personal safety, he dove into the formation of Japanese planes. Wing-mounted 50 caliber's 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 possible until all his ammunition was finally spent. Undaunted, he continued the assault. He dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail in hopes of damaging as many enemy planes as possible and rendering them unfit to fly. Finally, the exasperated Japanese squadron took off in another direction.

Deeply relieved, Butch O'Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier. Upon arrival, he reported in and related the event surrounding his return. The film from the gun-camera mounted on his plane told the 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 that action Butch became the Navy's first Ace of W.W.II, and the first Naval Aviator to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. A year later Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His home town 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 great man.

So, the next time you find yourself at O'Hare International, give some thought to visiting Butch's memorial displaying his statue and his Medal of Honor. It's located between Terminals 1 and 2.


Butch O'Hare was "Easy Eddie's" son. (Pretty cool, huh?)

O’Hare Airport in Chicago is named after Edward O'Hare - the first US Naval Ace of WWII. He was a hero. The kind you hardly see any more.

Tina Turner in the motion picture “Mad Max” was wrong, wrong, wrong. We do need heroes!

1 comment:

  1. That photo of Lieutenant O'Hare strikes such a contrast with the image of the bloody coward chickenhawk GW Bush's arrival upon an aircraft carrier in a contemporary US Air Force flight suit in May 2003.

    I know what my late father - who fought several combat missions in the US Army Air Corps in 1945 - would have said about GW Bush's stunt. He would have become nauseous and then thrown a hard object against the TV screen, to shatter it. Because, as he told me, back in WW II whenever any of the Army Air Corps returned safely to their base in England after REAL combat, many or most of them had shit and piss in their trousers - and mind you, there was no dishonour in that.

    All real warriors know what it means to be so afraid that they piss and shit in their own trousers. Lieutenant O'Hare probably did so as well. That is why GW Bush's "flight-suit" stunt in May 2003, profaned and insulted the deeds and memories of all real warriors, of all nations and all times.

    Real warriors know what it's like to piss and shit upon themselves during combat. GW Bush doesn't, and so his demonstration in his flight suit warrants his impeachment and exile to some remote jungle where "going to war" us always a very PERSONAL matter...


Isabel Van Fechtmann

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