Parson to Person: “The Next Time You Fly Out of Chicago” March 5, 2021

Last Sunday my sermon was on “The Way for This Journey.” There is one story I didn’t have time to tell you in that sermon, so I thought I’d mention it in this “Parson to Person” column. It has to do with the idea that it’s never too late to start going down the right path (or way, road, avenue, highway, boulevard, drive, street, lane, etc.).¬† No matter what we’ve done in the past, who we may have hurt, what chances we passed up, how many times we’ve failed–we can still make a U-turn, and we can still get on the right track.

As an example of this, let me tell you about Eddie O’Hare, otherwise known as Easy Eddy. He was a lawyer for Al Capone and his gang in Chicago. He was a very good lawyer–he kept Capone out of jail for a long time, and in payment he got a big mansion for his family, with live-in help and all the conveniences of the day. But Eddy had a son whom he really loved, and he wanted his son to have a better life than he himself had lived. And he realized that, although his son wanted for nothing in terms of money or education, the one thing he couldn’t give his son was a good name.

But, hoping it wasn’t too late, Eddie went to the authorities and told them what he knew about the mob; and he ended up having to testify against Al Capone and the organization. Within a year he was killed on a Chicago street–in retaliation for turning on the mob–as he expected he would be.

Yet, the example he left his son seems to have paid off. His son became a Navy pilot in World War II and was assigned the aircraft carrier Lexington in the South Pacific. One day he and his squadron were assigned a mission, and they went off, but he noticed on the way that his fuel gage was down (someone had forgotten to fill his tank)–so he had to go back to his carrier. On the way back he saw a bunch of Japanese war planes flying toward the American fleet. He realized that with all of the American planes out on a mission, the American fleet was pretty much defenseless. He decided he just couldn’t let the Japanese squadron find the U.S. fleet–and there wasn’t time to get the American planes back! So he just dove into the Japanese formation and started firing. And when he ran out of ammunition he rammed into them and tried to cut off a wing or a tail–until finally the Japanese squadron flew off. And Eddy’s son flew back to his aircraft carrier, his plane in tatters by this time. He seems to have¬†saved the fleet from almost certain destruction.

For that action he was the first naval aviator of World War II to get the Congressional Medal of Honor. He died a year later in combat, and his hometown (Chicago) named its airport for him. So if you’ve ever flown out of O’Hare, know that it was named for Butch O’Hare, Easy Eddie’s son.

And you can find a statue of him between Terminal 1 and 2. And if you ever wonder whether it’s too late to change your path, remember that Easy Eddie did, and you can too.

And the world may be a little different…for your having done so.


peace and unrest,