Myth Blaster: O’Hare Saga


This Myth Blaster article is something like Paul Harvey‘s beloved and famous Rest of the Story Monday through Friday broadcasts.
The email is two stories concerning two men that are tied together and involves the infamous Al Capone, a name that is familiar to Door Peninsula residents and tourists because it was his hangout, even yachting a time or two off the Peninsula.
Here is the email sent:

STORY NUMBER  ONE
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 Eddie got special dividends, as well. 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 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 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.”

STORY NUMBER  TWO
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 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, 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.

SO WHAT DO THESE TWO STORIES HAVE TO DO WITH EACH OTHER?
Butch O’Hare was “Easy Eddie’s” son.

Myth Blaster Verdict: generally TRUE, with some minor exceptions or debatable between historians and additional information not provided in the email version. …
Edward Henry “Butch” O’Hare is a familiar name in aviation history and among aviators and history buffs. First, the father’s story …
Edward Joseph O’Hare, aka “Easy Eddie” was born in St. Louis, Missouri on September 5th, 1893 and died in Chicago on November 8th, 1939. He was known by friends as “EJ” and whose parents were Irish-Americans: Patrick Joseph O’Hare and Cecelia Ellen Malloy O’Hare. EJ married Selma Anna Lauth, also from St. Louis whose heritage was from Germany and they started their lives together in an apartment above Selma’s father’s grocery store (Soulard). EJ studied to be a lawyer and passed the Missouri bar exam in 1923 and joined a law firm. According to Wikipedia:

From 1925 O’Hare operated dog tracks in Chicago, Boston and Miami. Edward J. O’Hare, as a lawyer, represented the inventor Owen P. Smith, high commissioner of the International Greyhound Racing Association, who patented a mechanical running rabbit for use in dog racing. As a result of this lucrative work for Smith, O’Hare moved his family in 1930 into a new house – with a swimming pool and a skating rink – in Holly Hills. During summers, the O’Hare family had escaped the St. Louis heat to river camps on the Merrimac and Gasconade rivers. E.J. had given Butch a .22-caliber rifle. Plinking at cans and bottles tossed in the river, Butch became quite a marksman. It was also during this time that E.J. became fascinated with flying, even hitching a ride in Charles Lindbergh’s mail plane. Lindbergh took his first job as lead pilot of an air mail route operated by Robertson Aircraft Co. of Lambert Field in St. Louis. E.J. then flew commercially whenever possible, and he found chances for his teenage son to briefly take the controls. As a result, his son Butch, the later Medal of Honor recipient, best known for his extreme bravery as a U.S. naval aviator in World War II, became quite a marksman and familiar with planes. … One day in the 1920s E.J. came home to find his son, Butch, sprawled on a couch reading books and munching banana layer cake and doughnuts. The father decided that his boy was showing signs of laziness and enrolled him at Western Military Academy in Alton. Divorced from his wife Selma in 1927, O’Hare moved to Chicago. Selma stayed in St. Louis with her two daughters Patricia and Marilyn, while Butch went to the U.S. Naval Academy. In Chicago, O’Hare met Al Capone, the man who ran Chicago during Prohibition. When Charles Lindbergh performed his famous trans-Atlantic flight in 1927, Capone was among the first to push forward and shake his hand upon his arrival in Chicago. Capone’s gang was the dominant gang in the city. An entrepreneur new in town, as E.J. was, had to choose a gang, just as today he would have to choose a business insurer. E.J. later fell in love with secretary Ursula Sue Granata, the sister of a State Representative with ties to the Mob. The engagement went on for seven years because, as Catholics, O’Hare’s divorce from his wife Selma made it impossible for the couple to have a church wedding. However, O’Hare was hopeful that a request for a dispensation from the Vatican would come through by 1940. O’Hare and Capone began collaborating in business and in law. O’Hare made a second fortune through his ties to Capone, but he grew tired of working with thugs (source?). In 1930, E.J. asked John Rogers, a reporter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, to arrange a meeting with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). John Rogers organized a meeting with IRS agent Frank J. Wilson. After lunch, E.J. agreed to turn over key financial records of Capone’s. The IRS’s overall goal was to wreck Capone financially by destroying his bootlegging business, Agent Frank J. Wilson’s job was to convict Al Capone of tax evasion. E.J. O’Hare played a key role in Capone’s prosecution for tax evasion. Frank J. Wilson, then government investigator of the Internal Revenue Service (and later Chief of the U.S. Secret Service between 1937 and 1946) revealed in the 26 April 1947 issue of Collier’s magazine how Capone was convicted: “On the inside of the gang I had one of the best undercover men I have ever known: Eddie O’Hare.” By 1930, E.J. O’Hare was working undercover for the Internal Revenue Service of the Treasury Department. It is believed O’Hare directed investigator Wilson to the Capone bookkeeper who would become a key witness at the 1931 trial, and he also helped break the code with which Capone’s bookkeepers kept ledgers at various gambling houses throughout the 1920s. During the Capone trial, O’Hare tipped the government that Capone had fixed the original jury that was to hear the case in the court of Judge James Wilkerson. Thus alerted, Judge Wilkerson switched juries with another federal judge just as the Capone tax trial was set to begin (depicted in the 1987 film “The Untouchables”). Al Capone was found guilty on five of twenty-two counts and sentenced to eleven years in a federal prison. Al Capone arrived at Alcatraz in August 1933.
There was always speculation E.J. O’Hare went undercover to ensure his son Butch a place at Annapolis, which required the approval of a Congressional representative. However, the possible existence of such a deal is indeed speculation, not fact: No documentation has ever surfaced linking the two events. O’Hare did not need help to obtain a
Naval Academy appointment for Butch. Well acquainted with all local politicians in St. Louis, Irish E.J. O’Hare was close to Irish Congressman John J. Cochran, who later appointed Butch from his Eleventh Congressional District. O’Hare had also already lined up two other congressmen prepared to appoint Butch. What is more likely is that O’Hare got an agreement that his involvement with Capone would not be used against his son’s appointment. …
Edward Joseph O’Hare was shot and killed on
Wednesday, November 8, 1939, while driving in his car. O’Hare was 46. That afternoon he reportedly left his office at Sportsman’s Park in Cicero with a cleaned and oiled Spanish-made .32-caliber semi-automatic pistol, something unusual for him. O’Hare got into his black 1939 Lincoln Zephyr coupe, and drove away from the track. As he approached the intersection of Ogden and Rockwell, a dark sedan roared up beside him and two shotgun-wielding henchmen opened up on him with a volley of big-game slugs. Edward Joseph O’Hare was killed instantly. As his Lincoln crashed into a post at the side of the roadway, the killers continued east on Ogden, where they soon became lost in other traffic. Several months after O’Hare was gunned down, Frank Nitti, Capone’s second in command, married Ursula Sue Granata, O’Hare’s fiancée.

The poem allegedly found on O’Hare’s body was an alternate of poet Robert H. Smith‘s poem entitled The Clock of Life. Urban legends states that the poem was clipped from a magazine and found in Easy Eddie’s pocket when he was killed:

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.

The correct version is at the Wikipedia entry.
Edward “Butch” O’Hare had indeed become quite an ace. In an addition to the story of Easy Eddie’s son, The Aviation History On-Line Museum wrote:

Butch O’Hare was later killed, November 1943, during the The Great MarianasTurkey Shoot,” in the battle for the Gilbert Islands in the Pacific. He was accidentally shot down by another American airplane on the first successful night-fighter operation from a carrier.

According to Snopes, it is a presumption that Butch O’Hare was killed by friendly fire on an aerial night raid. Snopes also questions the reason why Easy Eddie decided to become witness against the Mob given in the email version.
The Chicago airport, originally named Orchard Depot, was renamed O’Hare International Airport in 1949.In 1945, the US Navy destroyer, USS O’Hare (DD-889) was named in his honor.
Butch O’Hare was survived by his wife, Rita O’Hare and daughter, Kathleen. Rita received a posthumous Purple Heart and the Navy Cross on November 26th, 1944.
Further Reading and Sources:
Edward J. O’Hare – Wikipedia
Butch and Eddie O’Hare
– Truth or Fiction
Empire of the Son
– Snopes
Capone and O’Hares
– Combined Counties Police Association
Edward J. “Easy Eddie” O’Hare
– Find A Grave
Edward Henry “Butch” O’Hare
– Wikipedia
Lt. Cdr. Edward “Butch” O’Hare
– Ace Pilots (The most accurate, documented tale of Butch O’Hare)
Capone Mob Murder, World War II Hero Figure in Naming of O’Hare Airport
– IPSN
Edward H. [sic] (Butch) O’Hare
– Aviation History
Butch O’Hare
Time magazine
The Butch O’Hare Story
– St. Louis magazine
Edward “Butch” O’Hare (1914-1943) – History of War
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