A recent share in my social feed reminded me of this incredible story that links Chicago O’Hare and Al Capone. It’s really two stories, but stay with me until the end.
Al Capone’s lawyer was known as ‘Easy Eddie’. Eddie kept his client out of jail for a long time, and was richly rewarded with a mansion that sat on an entire city block. He was everything that people despise about lawyers, though, wrangling the system without regard to morality as he pursued the interests of his client.
“Eddie gave little consideration to the atrocity that went on around him, but he did have one soft spot – a son whom he loved dearly. Eddie saw to it that his young son had nice clothes, cars and a good education. Price was no object.
“And, despite his involvement with organized crime, Eddie even tried to teach his son right from wrong. Eddie wanted his son to be a better man than he was.
Easy Eddie turned state’s evidence against Al Capone. He’s said to have done this to “clean up his tarnished name and offer his son some semblance of integrity.” Although he may have been in some legal jeopardy himself and benefited from the deal.
He testified against Capone in 1932, and seven years later – ‘revenge is best served cold’ – was gunned down by the mob. At the time he had on him “a gun, 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.’
The second story is about Lieutenant Butch O’Hare, a fighter pilot in the South Pacific during World War II. On one fateful day in February 1942 his squadron was sent off, but his fuel tank was low – the crew had failed to top it off – and he was ordered to return to the Lexington. Enroute back he encountered a Japanese fighter squadron that could have overtaken the ship and his comrades. On his own, he engaged.
He fired at the planes until all his ammunition was spent, then dove at the planes, trying to clip a wing or tail. Finally, the Japanese squadron took off in another direction.
Butch O’Hare and his tattered fighter limped back to the carrier. He had destroyed five enemy aircraft and, for that, became the Navy’s first ace of World War II and the first naval aviator to win the Medal of Honor.
Butch O’Hare was killed a year later during aerial combat. Chicago O’Hare airport is named in his honor.
So what is Al Capone’s connection to Chicago’s O’Hare airport? Butch O’Hare was Easy Eddie’s son. Orchard Field (hence, ORD) was renamed for O’Hare on September 19, 1949.
Credit: Raysonho via Wikimedia Commons
You can see a Grumman F4F-3 like the one Butch O’Hare flew in on his Medal of Honor flight in the area connecting terminals 1 and 2 airside.