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Butch O'Hare

butch_ohareLt. Commander Edward Henry "Butch" O'Hare (13 March 1914 Ð 26 November 1943) was a naval aviator of the United States Navy who on 20 February 1942 became the U.S. Navy's first flying ace and Medal of Honor recipient in World War II. Butch O'Hare's final action took place on the night of 26 November 1943, while he was leading the U.S. Navy's first-ever nighttime fighter attack launched from an aircraft carrier. During this encounter with a group of Japanese torpedo bombers, O'Hare was shot down; his aircraft was never found. In 1945, the U.S. Navy destroyer USS O'Hare (DD-889) was named in his honor.

Edward Henry "Butch" O'Hare was born in St. Louis, Missouri to Edward Joseph O'Hare and Selma O'Hare. Butch had two sisters, Patricia and Marilyn. When their parents divorced in 1927, Butch and his sisters stayed with their mother Selma in St. Louis while their father Edward moved to Chicago. Butch's father had been a lawyer who had been working closely with Al Capone before turning against him and helping convict Al Capone for tax evasion.

Butch O'Hare graduated from the Western Military Academy (WMA) in 1932, and the following year went on to the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. Graduated and appointed an Ensign from 3 June 1937, he served two years on board the battleship USS New Mexico (BB-40), before reporting for flight training. In 1939 he started flight training at NAS Pensacola in Florida, learning the basics on Naval Aircraft Factory N3N-1 "Yellow Peril" and Stearman NS-1 biplane trainers, later on the advanced trainer SNJ. On the nimble Boeing F4B-4A he trained in aerobatics as well as aerial gunnery. He also flew the SBU Corsair and the TBD Devastator.

In November 1939, his father was shot, most likely by Al Capone's gunmen. During Capone's tax evasion trial in 1931 and 1932, O'Hare's father provided incriminating evidence which helped finally put Capone away. There is speculation that this was done to ensure that Butch got into Annapolis, or to set a good example. Whatever the motivation, the elder O'Hare was shot down in his car, a week before Capone was released from incarceration.

When Butch finished his naval aviation training 2 May 1940 he was assigned to VF-3, USS Saratoga's fighter squadron. In early 1941, Fighting Squadron Three transferred to USS Enterprise (CV-6), while carrier USS Saratoga (CV-3) underwent maintenance and overhaul work at Bremerton Navy Yard.