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Fateful Rendezvous: The Life of Butch O'Hare Hardcover – March, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Ewing and Lundstrom's excellent biography of the navy-pilot namesake of Chicago's principal airport also betrays that the coauthors were utterly charmed by their subject. As they depict him, O'Hare was a singularly attractive and capable man. The son of a Chicago businessman murdered for informing on Capone, he graduated from Annapolis in 1937 and was already a seasoned fighter pilot by the time the U.S. entered World War II. He won the Medal of Honor in 1942 by single-handedly breaking up a Japanese bomber attack on the carrier Lexington. After a short period of training duty ashore, he returned to combat. He died in action late in 1943, while engaged in the first successful carrier-based night interception. O'Hare fits no stereotype ("real" fighter aces are not supposed to have lifelong weight problems; he did) and seems to have lived "above and beyond the call of duty." He has long deserved a comprehensive and accurate biography: here it is. Roland Green

Review

...resurrects a forgotten hero. -- Chicago Tribune

An extremely interesting book, well worth reading. -- Associated Press

Butch O'Hare has long deserved a comprehensive and accurate biography: here it is. -- Booklist --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press; 1st edition (March 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1557502471
  • ISBN-13: 978-1557502476
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.3 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,262,828 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey T. Munson on September 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Authors Ewing and Lundstrom have done an excellent job of telling the story of Butch O'Hare. Born in March, 1914 and raised in St. Louis, Butch loved the simpler things in life. He enjoyed spending time with his father hunting or fishing, or playing with his younger sisters. Family was always important to Butch, and the authors do a good job of stressing this throughout the book. Butch eventually left St. Louis and attend Annapolis, graduating in 1937. Butch's first assignment was aboard the battleship New Mexico, and he quickly developed an affection for the ship's float planes. After serving aboard the New Mexico, Butch signed up for flight training and was stationed at Pensacola, Florida. There, Butch earned his wings.
Butch's most famous flight occurred on February 20, 1942. Butch was on board the carrier Lexington when a group of Japanese torpedo planes attacked the task force. Butch scrambled his F4F Wildcat fighter off the deck and rose to meet the enemy. In the span of about 5 minutes, Butch single-handedly shot down 6 of the attackers while saving the task force from certain damage. Butch was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Roosevelt at a ceremony at the White House. Afterward, Butch embarked on a war bond tour where he visited factories and gave rally speeches. While on a visit to Grumman, Butch was able to talk to designers about the limitations of the F4F. This input led to the development of the F6F fighter, which Butch would fly later in the war.
The authors do a good job of describing in great detail Butch's war days. I felt like I was flying right along with him. Particularly interesting was the detailed description of Butch's final flight.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By R. W. Russell on December 8, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The fine qualities of this book are described in the other reviews, so I'll focus on one important aspect that hasn't yet been mentioned. In most previous writings, the death of Butch O'Hare is clouded by suggestions that he may have been killed by friendly fire. Supposedly, TBF turret gunner Alvin Kernan may have struck Butch's Hellcat while firing at what he thought was a Japanese "Betty" on the Hellcat's tail. That notion took root early on, thanks to one of those in-your-face reporters who attempted to interview Kernan immediately upon landing from the harrowing flight. It gained momentum with official Navy reports, penned by officers who were not on the scene and didn't bother to debrief all of the personnel who were.

The result has been something of a stigma that has dogged Kernan over the years, which seems highly incongruous given that he was awarded the Navy Cross for his part in the same action. But Ewing and Lundstrom aptly dispel the myth in "Fateful Rendezvous." A combination of testimony from TBF radar operator H. B. Rand (who wasn't questioned immediately after the mission because of battle wounds) plus analysis of Japanese records revealed to the authors that Kernan indeed fired at a Betty that had tried to join up on the American formation (the pilot apparently thought he'd found his own squadron). Seeing the U.S. planes flashing their recognition lights to each other, the Betty's nose gunner popped off a few rounds that most likely stitched O'Hare's cockpit, wounding or killing the pilot with no appreciable damage to the Hellcat itself. Rand had seen it all, stating to the authors that the only way Kernan could have hit O'Hare's plane would have been to shoot the tail off of their TBF.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 5, 1997
Format: Hardcover
John Lundstrom is one of the few, maybe the only current writer of US naval aviation history who can describe air to air combat and have it make sense. Fateful Rendezvous continues John's standing in that catagory of writer. His description of the fateful night in November is a masterwork of clarity. The movement of all the participants are put into context with each other and the US Task Force under attck.

Getting the context right is something both John and Steve do very well and it shows in this book. Steve's coverage of O'Hare's early years and the family's social standing, including the association with Al Capone are revealed with detail and a solid sense of the times. Those interested in Chicago and American social history between the wars will find Fateful Rendezvous brings a new perspective to that topic.

John places the events of O'Hare's Navy service in the greater context of the United State's preparation for and fighting in WWII. John also brings in the Japanese point of view as their tactics change in response to the increasing power of the USN in the Pacific.

Both authors are known for their attention to detail and strong sense of historical honesty. This book continues that tradition. Having read a pre-publication copy I can't wait to have a finished edition of Fateful Rendezvous on my shelf.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Schaffner on August 18, 1997
Format: Hardcover
The authors obviously researched their subject quite thoroughly in preparation for this excellent piece of history. In my previous readings, Butch O'Hare has remained somewhat of an enigma. This book provides great insights into the man and his times. This is a great tribute to an American hero. I wish there were more books like this about about other heroes from this time period. Men like John Basilone, Alexander Bonnyman, and Richard Bong need to have their stories retold for a new generation of readers
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