During the course of World War II, many people became heroes in one way or another. One man who left a legacy was Butch O’Hare. He was a fighter pilot assigned to an aircraft carrier in the Pacific. One time, his entire squadron was ordered to fly a particular mission. After he was airborne, he looked at his fuel gauge and realized that the technician had neglected to top off his fuel tank. Because of this, he did not have enough fuel to complete his mission and get back to his ship in time. His commander told Butch to leave the formation and return to the fleet.
As Butch was returning to his ship, he could see a squadron of Japanese fighter planes
heading toward the American fleet for an attack. With all the American fighter planes gone, the fleet of aircraft carriers was almost defenseless. There was only a short window of time to distract and divert the enemy. Single-handedly, Butch dove into the formation of Japanese planes and attacked them.
The American fighter planes were rigged with cameras so pictures could be taken as they flew and fought. This technology helped the military to learn more about the terrain, key locations, and enemy maneuvers. Butch dove at them and fired until all his ammunition was gone. He dove repeatedly and tried to clip off wings or tails or anything that would make enemy planes unfit to fly. He did everything he could to keep them from reaching the American ships.
Finally, what was left of the Japanese squadron took off in another direction. Butch O’Hare and his fighter plane, both seriously damaged, limped back to the carrier for a turbulent landing. He told the story to his fellow soldiers, but not until the film from the camera on his plane was developed did the military realize the extent he went to in order to protect the fleet. Butch was recognized as a hero and given one of the nation’s highest military honors. Later on, the busiest airport in the country was named in his honor. We are all familiar with O’Hare Airport in Chicago.
Prior to that time, there was a man named Easy Eddie. He was working in Chicago for a well-known criminal named Al Capone. Unlike Butch O’Hare, Al Capone wasn’t famous for anything heroic. Actually he was notorious for the murders he committed and the many illegal things he had done.
Easy Eddie was Al Capone’s lawyer and he was very good at what he did. He was quite skillful at keeping Al Capone out of jail. To show appreciation, Al Capone paid him handsomely. He not only earned a hefty salary but received extravagant benefits, like a home that filled an entire Chicago city block. The house had wrought iron fencing and live-in help and all the conveniences of the day.
Easy Eddie had a son. He loved his son deeply and gave him all the best things while he was growing up: clothes, toys, and a good education. And because he genuinely cared for his son, he knew deep in his heart that he should teach him right from wrong. He was painfully aware that the one thing he couldn’t give his son was a good name or a good example. These eluded him, but in time, Easy Eddie decided that his son’s future and a good name were more important than riches or power.
A short time later, he went to the authorities in order to rectify the wrong he had done. In order to tell the truth, it meant he had to testify in court against Al Capone and he knew Capone would make every effort to have him silenced. Nonetheless, Easy Eddie wanted more than anything to be an example and to do the best he could to give his son a good name. He came to terms with the weight of his marred legacy and he testified against Capone. The authorities finally convicted Capone and within the year, Easy Eddie was shot and killed on a lonely street in Chicago. He was survived by his wife and teenaged son.
These two stories may seem unrelated, but Butch O’Hare was Easy Eddie’s son. Eddie O’Hare loved Butch so much that he laid down his life to offer him hope for the future. That’s what Jesus did for you and me. He laid down His life to give us hope for the future. My history, the good and the bad, pales in contrast with the wonderful plans God has in store for me. What a relief. What a joy. What anticipation.
I am not aware of Eddie O’Hare’s spiritual condition when he met his earthly end, but I can’t help but believe he had a personal encounter with the maker and lover of his soul. When Eddie repented of his wrongdoing, he had no idea that the name he sought to restore to his son would likewise be restored to himself. Nothing is too difficult for God! He is in the miracle business and we must never underestimate what He can create, heal, forgive, reconcile, and reconstruct.
What needs to be “made right” in your life this day? Lay the broken pieces down at the foot of the cross. You will be amazed by what God can accomplish when you surrender your reputation, your resume, and your rights. Jesus promised that when you lose your life for His sake, you will find it.
Ellie, This was a powerful illustration. Loved the history! I’d never heard these stories before.