Lt. Cmdr. Edward "Butch" O'Hare (March 13, 1914 - November 26, 1943) was a pilot who on February 20, 1942 became America's first World War II flying ace. The O'Hare International Airport in Chicago, Illinois was named in his honor.
Edward O'Hare was born in St. Louis. His father E.J. O'Hare was a successful businessman and attorney, who was later murdered for informing on Al Capone. Edward O'Hare graduated out of the Western Military Academy (WMA) in 1932, and the following year he went on to the US Naval Academy, Annapolis. He graduated from Annapolis in 1937 following which he received choice duty on the USS New Mexico (BB-40). After serving 2 years on the ship, in 1939 he started flight training at Naval Air Station (NAS), Pensacola, Florida. When he finished his naval aviation training, he was assigned to VF-3, the USS Saratoga's Fighting Squadron.
O'Hare married Rita in 1941.
O'Hare's most famous flight occurred on February 20, 1942. He was on board the carrier Lexington which had been assigned the dangerous task of penetrating enemy-held waters north of New Ireland. While still 400 miles from the harbour at Rabaul, the Lexington was discovered by a Japanese flying boat and a group of Japanese torpedo planes attacked the task force. O'Hare single-handedly shot down 6 planes and helped save the ship. For this act he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest decoration of his country.
O'Hare died in an air crash during the first carrier-based night fighter operations of the US Navy. The circumstances of his death are unclear, the assumptions being that his plane may have been hit by Japanese bombers, or gone down in friendly fire by the planes in his own formation.