Wednesday, February 23, 2005

A Tale of Two Men

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 his
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 atrocity 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 the best of everything: 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 and a good example.

One day, Easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. Easy
Eddie wanted to rectify 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 would 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 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 were speeding their
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


  1. That was fascinating. Thanks for posting it.

  2. What a great story, Pat. Thanks for taking the time to do it right!

  3. Great story, Pat. Thanks for finding it and spending the time to write it up well.