"Pilots, Man Your Planes!"   
                                         WWII U.S. Naval Aviation Collector's Guide                                                                              
 
      Fallen Heroes
 "Tell
Them Of Us And Say, For Their Tomorrow, We gave Our Today"
LCDR O'Hare poses with the members of his new squadron, VF-6, on a hillside in Hawaii, before sailing back to the war.

Below: Butch, in a photo from a Stars and Stripes article, and the full image it was taken from.
Note his B-3 vest and last name stenciled on the parachute harness.
When VF-6 departed the States for the Pacific, the Navy was in the midst of rethinking it's carrier aircraft complements and organization as it deployed the new Essex class carriers and their new air groups. As a result, VF-6 was temporarily split up into smaller units. Butch and a few of his pilots ended up aboard CVL-22, USS Independence. The five photos below were taken during that period in September of 1943. Butch's wingman at the time was future ace Alex Vraciu.
As seen here, Butch's flying attire consisted of a one-piece HBT suit (modified with the addition of lower leg pockets), a B-3 life vest, Army/Navy QAS parachute, .38 revolver carried in an issue shoulder holster, a white deck helmet with "volcano" earcups and Mk-II goggles. Verbal accounts of the period suggest that by the time of his last flight (see below), he was also wearing an original model backpad survival kit.
In late November, 1943, Butch was back aboard the Enterprise which was part of a large carrier task force operating in support of the Gilbert Islands campaign. The Japanese were trying a new tactic, launching flights of Betty bombers at night for low level torpedo attacks against the fleet. Butch and Enterprises' torpedo squadron CO, LCDR Phillips, were tasked with countering this threat. Their solution, the Navy's first attempt at carrier-launched nightfighting, was to put up a combat air patrol comprised of one Avenger (fitted with ASV radar) and two Hellcats. The ship's search radar, in combination with the Avenger's ASV, was to locate the intruders and direct the fighters until they had established visual contact with the bandits and were able to initiate an attack. On the night of November 26, Phillips (in the Avenger),  Butch and his wingman LT (jg) "Andy" Skon of VF-2 (in their Hellcats), were launched . A large number of attacking enemy bombers had split up into smaller groups to better avoid detection. Butch and his wingman quickly became separated from LCDR Phillips so they set out to hunt on their own. While separated, Phillips was able to successfully employ his onboard radar to intercept and shoot down two of the bombers. Eventually, with the ships' help, Butch and his wingman were able to find and rejoin Phillips. While they were in the process of re-establishing their own three plane formation with the Avenger in the lead and the two Hellcats astern to port and starboard, a stray Betty suddenly loomed up out of the darkness behind Butch's plane. The Avenger's turret gunner and the nose gunner of the Betty opened fire almost simultaneously, exchanging strings of tracer. As fate would have it, Butch was hit and his Hellcat veered off to the left and plunged down out of sight.* Despite an extensive search, no sign of Butch or his aircraft were found. A great man, a great leader, a great hero was gone without a trace.
Above: LCDR Phillips, pilot of the Avenger on the night Butch disappeared. Unfortunately, he too would be lost in combat later in the war. 
Below: If you've ever passed through Chicago's airport, you may have seen the tribute there to it's namesake.

* Upon review of the after-action report, it became clear that a contributing factor to the loss of LCDR O'Hare, may have been his survival back pad kit. At the time, the "original" kit was in use. Due to it's thickness, the pad tended to push the pilot forward in his seat and away from the armor plate at his back. This cut down on the armor plate's effective area of protection and made the pilot more vunerable to oblique fire. Reports to this effect had started to come in to the BuAer, but Butch's loss made correcting the problem a high priority. A modification kit to allow the internal rearrangement of the components and cut down on the padding was quickly manufactured and rushed to fleet units. It can be argued that even in death, Butch helped save the lives of some of his fellow aviators.