Category Archives: Heroes Among Us

Naff Off

By lex, on November 21st, 2010

Yobs are street hoodlums, UK style. And like street hoodlums everywhere, they are not knocking about in their anti-social little way whilst on holidays from Oxbridge. They are doing, in other words, about the best that they can.

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The Common Thread

By lex, on November 16th, 2010

Writing in the WSJ, William McGurn reminds us of the common narrative connecting all of our most recent Medal of Honor awardees, including that of then-Specialist Salvatore Giunta – exceptional courage to save lives, rather than Hollywood-style efforts to kill the foe:

When we think of military heroism, we may think of Rambos decorated for great damage inflicted on the enemy. In fact, the opposite is true. Every Medal of Honor from these wars has been for an effort to save life. Even more telling, each specifically recognizes bravery that cannot be commanded.

Of the eight who have earned it, three—Army Pfc. Ross McGinniss, Navy Petty Officer Michael Monsoor, Marine Cpl. Jason Dunham—threw themselves on grenades to protect their comrades. Navy Lt. Michael Murphy knowingly exposed himself to enemy fire so he could call in help for his team.

Army Staff Sgt. Jared Monti died trying to rescue a fellow soldier. Army Staff Sgt. Robert Miller was killed while diverting gunfire from Taliban forces so his team could carry their commander to safety. Army Sgt. First Class Paul Ray Smith—the first from these wars to earn the Medal—took on an overwhelming Iraqi force from a machine gun atop a disabled armored personnel carrier, allowing the safe withdrawal of many wounded American soldiers.

On that ridge in Afghanistan, Salvatore Giunta could not save his sergeant. But he did deprive the enemy of its victory—and death of some of its sting.

It’s clear from SSgt Giunta’s television interviews that he is uncomfortable in the role of hero, and that he doesn’t need the Medal of Honor for himself.

But we need it for him. We need it for us, to affirm to ourselves what it is our soldiers fight for, and the values of the civilization that gave them birth.

 

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An Unwritten Book

101stAirborne

I have thought often of how many people have magnificent stories that stay hidden. Since my father died, my mother and I talk more. As a young woman she was in Manhattan during V-E Day – at Times Square. (the famous Alfred Eisenstadt picture Lex referred to  was during V-J Day).

My mother was in Washington DC during that day.

Anyway, today I am at the In-N-Out hamburger place and see an elderly man with a 101st Airborne cap. So I have to ask him where he served.

“I jumped into Holland”

At Arnhem?, I asked.

“Yes”

“Then  I was at Bastogne in 1944″. It was 11 below zero. ”

He was one to the defenders at the Battle of the Bulge!

He is a true hero…

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Attitude

    Right now I’m just sitting at an In N’ Out waiting for my cheeseburger.

I just went for my monthly blood test at our local VA.  On my way into the building a young woman was exiting with a leg prothesis.  She had lost her leg almost at the hip.

People like her make me very humble about my own military service. Here I ended up traveling over most of Europe when I wasn’t in a radar bunker talking to missile batteries in Germany.

Some gave a lot more than others; some gave all.

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MAAM P-61B Black Widow Restoration Update

The MAAM's P-61B Black Widow as she currently appears.

The MAAM’s P-61B Black Widow as she currently appears.

We’ve written before about the Mid Atlantic Air Museum’s Northrop P-61 Black Widow here.

Northrop’s P-61 Black Widow is the only night-fighter designed as such from the ground up. Built and flown in 1942, the P-61 could arguably be called one of the first fighter aircraft designed as an entire weapon system, namely the SCR-720A Airborne Radar.

The P-61s SCR-720A  airborne radar as it appears under the aircraft's radome.

The P-61s SCR-720A airborne radar as it appears under the aircraft’s radome.

As we also mentioned there are a few on display throughout the world including the National Museum of the United States Air Force (at Wright/Patterson AFB in Dayton, OH) and the National Air and Space Museum Uvdar-Hazy Annex (at Dulles International Airport in Washington DC).

The only soon-to-be flyable P-61 is owned by the Mid Atlantic Air Museum in Reading, Pennsylvania. The Museum was gracious enough to dedicate a portion of it’s website solely to give people a chance to see the restoration in progress (the website was last updated on 13 December 2013). The P-61 has always fascinated me and it’s interesting to see the aircraft from pieces to almost a complete aircraft. Just over the past few months there has been great progress on the P-61, enough that it’s being publicly displayed so you can view the Black Widow as she’s being restored. Below is one of the latest photos from the MAAM’s P-61B restoration site.

The right nose landing gear of the MAAM's P-61B

The right nose landing gear of the MAAM’s P-61B

The video below gives you a bit of a walkaround on the MAAM’s P-61:

An interesting thing to me was the detail with which the radar operator’s station at the rear of the main fuselage. Here’s an illustration of what the radar operator’s station looks like from the P-61’s Pilot’s Operating Manual (I know you know I have one…lol):

P-61 Radar Operator's Station.

P-61 Radar Operator’s Station.

Compare that with how it now appears after the restoration:

view into the RO's compartment from the boarding laddar view into the R.O.'s compartment from the aft boarding laddarPICT1352This example of the restored Radar Operator’s station serves to underline the painstaking care that the Museum is taking to get the Black Widow not only to flying condition but also “1942” flying condition.

This particular aircraft even has an interesting history in it’s own right. You can learn more about that courtesy of Warbird Radio. If you don’t only to learn about the MAAM’s P-61, you can also be part of it by donating to the restoration here. That’s your chance to be part of history.

I can’t wait to see this aircraft completed to be flyable. Hell I’d be the first to volunteer to fly it 🙂

A P-61 Black Widow in her glory days.

A P-61 Black Widow in her glory days.

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Edward “Butch” O’Hare

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Butch O’Hare and his F4F-3 Wildcat. Stud.

Most of you will recognize the namesake of one of Chicago’s international airports. What you probably may not know is that today in 1942, the USS Lexington came under attack by Japanese G4M “Betty” bombers while in the Japanese-held waters north of New Ireland.

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A flight of 9 Bettys approached the Lexington from an undefended side, and Lt. Edward H. “Butch” O’Hare and his wingman were the only aircraft available to intercept the formation. At 1700 hours, O’Hare arrived over the 9 incoming bombers and attacks. During the engagement his wingman’s (LT. Marion Dufilho) guns failed, so O’Hare had to fight on alone. He is credited with shooting down five Japanese bombers and damaging a sixth and probably saving lives aboard the Lexington (although she was scuttled at the Battle of Coral Sea in May that year).

VF-3: Front row, second from right: Lt. Edward Butch O'Hare.

VF-3: Front row, second from right: Lt. Edward Butch O’Hare.

As a result of this engagement O’Hare was promoted to LtCDR and received a Medal Of Honor. The citation reads as follows:

LIEUTENANT EDWARD HENRY O’HARE
UNITED STATES NAVY

Medal of Honor – Navy
Rank and organization: Lieutenant, U.S. Navy
Born: 13 March 1914, St. Louis, Mo.
Entered service at: St. Louis, Mo.
Other Navy awards: Navy Cross, Distinguished Flying Cross with 1 gold star.

Citation: For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in aerial combat, at grave risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty, as section leader and pilot of Fighting Squadron 3 on 20 February 1942. Having lost the assistance of his teammates, Lt. O’Hare interposed his plane between his ship and an advancing enemy formation of 9 attacking twin-engine heavy bombers. Without hesitation, alone and unaided, he repeatedly attacked this enemy formation, at close range in the face of intense combined machinegun and cannon fire. Despite this concentrated opposition, Lt. O’Hare, by his gallant and courageous action, his extremely skillful marksmanship in making the most of every shot of his limited amount of ammunition, shot down 5 enemy bombers and severely damaged a sixth before they reached the bomb release point. As a result of his gallant action–one of the most daring, if not the most daring, single action in the history of combat aviation–he undoubtedly saved his carrier from serious damage.

Medal-of-Honor-OHARE-Edward-H.-Butch-Lieutenant-j.g.-USN-receives-Medal-of-Honor-from-FDR-21-April-1942

Butch O’Hare receives the Medal Of Honor from FDR (with wife Rita at his side)

There’s a bit of fable involved in the tale of Butch’s entry into the US Navy. It makes for a great story but it’s just a fable indeed. Butch’s dad was Edward “Easy Eddie” O’Hare who was a tax accountant for the infamous Al Capone. O’Hare played a key role in Capone’s prosecution for tax evasion and as a result of working with the Feds, the rumor was that Butch received an appointment to the United States Naval Academy in return. A great story indeed.

Easy Eddie was later assassinated (from Wikipedia):

O’Hare was shot and killed on Wednesday, November 8, 1939, while driving in his car. He 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 rolled up beside him and two shotgun-wielding henchmen opened up on him with a volley of big-gameslugs. 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.

Butch himself was later killed-in-action on 26 November 1943 while leading the first-ever night time fighter attack to be launched from a carrier.

If your ever at O’Hare airport and in terminal 2 go see the F4F-3 recovered from Lake Michigan:

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In the finest tradition of the Naval service, Chicago’s very own.

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Goodyear FG-1 at KIBM

Pics of an immaculate Goodyear FG-1 Corsair at Kimball Municipal Airport in Kimball, Nebraska.

Imma quite smitten.

She was stopping by for fuel:

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