Today marks the 65th anniversary of the US Navy’s first successful night intercept on 26 November 1943 by LCDR Butch O’Hare, air group commander of Air Wing 6 on the USS Enterprise (CV-6). As a nation we should be thankful for all those who have served our country in war and peace.
It seems that when the worse of times arrive, we have free men and women to rise to the task. As Fleet Admiral William “Bull” Halsey said, “There are no great men, only great challenges that ordinary men are forced by circumstances to meet.” Butch O’Hare was one of those men who rose to the challenges of World War II. He gave the nation an early rise in our morale with his shoot down of 5 Japanese Betty bombers in February of 1942 for which he received the Medal of Honor and became the U. S. Navy’s first ace of the war.
Butch spent part of a day onboard the USS YORKTOWN (CV-10) in August 1943 and later worked with the YORKTOWN’s air group commander Jimmy Flatley as YORKTOWN, INDEPENDENCE and ESSEX attacked Japanese forces on Marcus and Wake islands.
Butch’s successful intercept of a Japanese bomber on 26 November 1943 west of Tarawa (just captured by the Marines after several days of fighting beginning 20 November) also led to his being killed in action as a Betty bomber behind him fired shots after his shootdown of the lead Betty. He left his wife Rita and daughter Kathleen to a grateful nation.
As a nation on Thanksgiving we are grateful for all who served, those who did not return and for the many who did return…Let us give thanks…