Edward “Butch” O’Hare

Pacific Paratrooper

Lt. Edward “Butch” O’Hare, Feb. 1942

On Feb. 20, 1942, the flattop Lexington was steaming toward the Japanese base at Rabaul, Papua New Guinea, when it was approached by two enemy flying boats. Their crews managed to signal its coordinates before American fighters flamed the planes, and the Japanese immediately launched an attack against Lexington.

That chance encounter had dire implications for the U.S., which couldn’t afford the loss of a single ship and certainly not a carrier.

American radar picked up two waves of Japanese aircraft. Mitsubishi G4M1 “Betty” bombers—good planes with experienced pilots.

Six American fighters led by legendary pilot Jimmy Thach intercepted one formation, breaking it up and downing most of the Bettys.

The second wave, however, approached from another direction almost unopposed.

Almost.

Two American fighters were close enough to intercept the second flight of eight bombers. The Navy pilots flew Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats, which like…

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26 thoughts on “Edward “Butch” O’Hare”

    1. I’m glad. It was the workhorse of the Navy in 1942. While not as nimble as the Zero, it was armored, and the Zero wasn’t. Although we didn’t realize that until we captured one in the Aleutians, as I’m sure you know.

    2. Amazing what a bit of armor behind the seat did. Wonder if the psychology of the designers or culture led to different choices in the design of the fighter aircraft in each country.

    3. Good question. When I was growing up, the implicit assumption was culture, much like not giving pilots parachutes inWWI.

    4. Culture may well play the biggest role – Mikhail Kalashnikov’s AK-47 – it’s design more a result of Russian military culture, Kalashnikov mind?

    5. There are exceptions, but I’m not sure what if anything they prove. The Dutch started WWII with a Fokker fighter with fixed landing gear, a characteristic inexplicably shared by the Stuka and the Fairey Swordfish. Even the Brewster Buffalo, as bad as it was, didn’t include that mistake. Culture or opiate?

    6. don’t know which. Here it seems to be corporate culture – McDonald Douglas kept trying to make another
      DC-3 and could not modernize its production system. Boeing – created a new-better-faster assembly, an improved sub-contractor system and buy Congress members and Senators. McDonald Douglas would not have made the IT errors that Boeing did which drove planes into the ground. McDD would have incorporated an override backup to enable pilots to regain manual control of the airplane.

    7. I worked with them in the past, along with some of the engine makers and sub-contractors. Hard to overcome past successes and reinvent yourself when the market and bean counters want more of the same – grin.

    8. Not even what the market wants. I was in a computer company. There’s the “sunk cost” inertia that prevents companies from responding to technology change.

    9. One of many – had a good friend who worked in quality for Zenith Computer. I began working with desktop computers by learning Z-DOS and real floppy disks – lol.

    10. Forgot that – I struggled through for a couple of research courses with one of those – stacks and stacks and then find I punched in one or two wrong – arrgh. The Zenith was wonderful compared to that – then came Mac and Windows.

    11. Political Science – BA from School for International Service – American University, MA University of Cincinnati, ABD University of Cincinnati. 9 years policy analyst/political aide for two Cincinnati council members, 18 years editor of Journal for Quality and Participation.

    12. Very cool. Poli Sci Chicago, ma and abd Princeton, 37 years in market research and polling, starting when in grad school with the national elections in 76 and 78.

    13. We started the same year. Prof I wanted to work with had this thing for undergrad coeds. When he left, I was stuck with dept heavy in political philosophy, not my thing.

    14. My chair was heavy into philosophy and I was interested in how ideology and policy worked together – had thesis nearly done on Nasser’s, Pan-Arabism, Non-alignment and Egyptian domestic/foreign policy. All on index cards about sixteen feet – grin.

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