President Franklin Delano Roosevelt presented St. Louis native and aviation ace Lieutenant (junior grade) Edward Henry (“Butch”) O’Hare, United States Navy, with the Medal of Honor in a ceremony at the White House on this day in 1942.

O’Hare was section leader and pilot of Fighting Squadron 3, when on February 20, 1942, he lost the support of his teammates. Without hesitating, he positioned his plane between his ship and an advancing enemy formation of nine attacking twin-engine Japanese bombers. 

Alone, O’Hare repeatedly attacked the formation at close range, despite its intense machine-gun and cannon fire. He shot down five enemy bombers, and also severely damaged a sixth – before any reached the bomb release point.

Chicago’s O’Hare airport is named in his honor.

Based upon content from the book Missouri 365: This Day in Missouri History by John W. Brown, broadcaster and Missouri historian. Get your copy at Reedy Press.

Photo courtesy of Congressional Medal of Honor Society