February 20, 1942 – O’Hare Becomes First American WWII Flying Ace
In mid-February 1942, as the Lexington left Bougainville, the largest of the Solomon Islands in the South Pacific, for Rabaul, ship radar picked up Japanese bombers headed straight for the carrier. O’Hare and his team went into action, piloting F4F Wildcats. In a mere four minutes, O’Hare shot down five Japanese G4M1 Betty bombers; bringing a swift end to the Japanese attack and earning O’Hare the designation “ace” (given to any pilot who had five or more downed enemy planes to his credit).
Although the Lexington blew back the Japanese bombers, the element of surprise was gone, and the attempt to raid Rabaul was aborted for the time being. O’Hare was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery; and excellent aim.
Shooting down five bombers in four minutes? Pfft, I was once shot down by ten girls in five minutes at a high school dance.