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A Father's Love: Capone's Lawyer "Easy" Eddie and WWII Ace "Butch" O'Hare

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb
The Truth Network Radio
November 28, 2022 3:00 am

A Father's Love: Capone's Lawyer "Easy" Eddie and WWII Ace "Butch" O'Hare

Our American Stories / Lee Habeeb

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November 28, 2022 3:00 am

On this episode of Our American Stories, the unlikely story of redemption and bravery behind two Chicago legends: Al Capone's lawyer "Easy" Eddie and O'Hare Airport's namesake, WWII Ace pilot-hero, Butch O'Hare.

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On Black Friday, Cyber Monday too. This is Lee Habib and this is Our American Stories. And we tell stories about everything here on this show from the arts to sports and from business to history and everything in between, including your stories. And today's story is actually two stories and comes to us from a great friend of the show, Bob Crowther, bringing us an illustrious American tale that begins with the Chicago mob in the 1920s and ends with a heroic feat by a man who happened to be born in Chicago. Take it away, Bob. Let me tell you two stories about two men who come from my town, Chicago.

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 and everything from bootleg booze and prostitution to murder. Capone had a lawyer named 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 Eddie got special dividends. For instance, he and his family occupied a fenced-in mansion with live-in help and all 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 that he couldn't pass on a good name and a good example.

One day, easy Eddie reached a difficult decision. He decided he'd go to the authorities and tell the truth about Al Scarface Capone. Some say he did it to save himself. Others believe it was to clean up his tarnished name and offer his son some semblance of integrity. Maybe it was both. He testified against the mob and he knew that the cost could be great. Within the year, easy Eddie's life ended in a blaze of gunfire on a lonely Chicago street. But he may have given his son the greatest gift he could offer at the greatest price he would ever pay.

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. He was returning to the mothership when he saw something that turned his blood cold.

A squadron of Japanese aircraft was speeding their way toward the American fleet. The American fighters were going 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.

We 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 calibers blazed as he charged in attacking one surprise 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 room. Upon arrival he recorded 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 World War II and the first naval aviator to win the Congressional Medal of Honor. For heroism and extraordinary achievement in aerial flight, for distinguished service as pilot of an airplane of a bombing squad, his courageous actions were in keeping with the highest traditions of the United States.

A year later, Butch was killed in aerial combat at the age of 29. His hometown would not allow the memory of this World War II hero to fade. 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 one and two. So what the hell do these two stories have to do with each other? Butch O'Hare was Easy Eddie's son. And a special thanks to Bob Crowther for giving us that story and sharing it. If you've got stories like that, send them our way. They are our favorite shows and you are the hour in Our American Stories.

And by the way, what is a reputation worth? And to have all that wealth and to have all that privilege and to have nothing to show for it. And if anything, really awful things to show for it. Butch O'Hare's story, here on Our American Stories. Lee Habib here, the host of Our American Stories. Every day on this show, we're bringing inspiring stories from across this great country.

Stories from our big cities and small towns. But we truly can't do the show without you. Our stories are free to listen to, but they're not free to make. If you love what you hear, go to and click the donate button.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-28 04:13:29 / 2022-11-28 04:17:45 / 4

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