Generally credited as America's first "Ace" of the Second World War, Edward "Butch" O'Hare was shy and retiring, though extremely focused on flying and his abilities as a pilot. When flying 'cover' for his carrier, the U.S.S. Lexington on February 20, 1942, he and his wingman were suddenly the only thing in the air between nine Japanese bombers and his flattop. All other fighters had been drawn off in the opposite direction by the other half of the Japanese formation.
They both dove in but his wingman's guns immediately jammed. O'Hare continued, looping and diving on the bombers, eventually credited with five of the enemy. The remaining bombers missed the Lexington and were driven off by other pilots. Only two of the entire enemy contingent returned to base.
O'Hare then fought against being awarded a medal for doing his duty. Ever shy, he was also reticent to enter the limelight. Still, one month later, FDR hung the first Medal Of Honor for a combat pilot of the war around his neck.
-FROM ORIGINAL ARTWORK BY ROBERT COKER / CokerAirArt
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