Lady Lex

Microsoft co-founder Paul G. Allen announced something this week that amazed many of us. He found the USS Lexington (CV2), the legendary Lady Lex, which the Navy was forced to scuttle after the battle of the Coral Sea, a few weeks before Midway. This was the battle that blunted to forward thrust of Japan, that would end forever just a few weeks later as the Japanese lost four fleet carriers at Midway, some of the Lex’s aircrew were there.

This was the second US carrier, the first was the USS Langley called the covered wagon because it had no island, and while the Langley had been converted from a collier, the Lex was converted during construction from a Treaty Battlecruiser.

The ship (and some of the planes lost with it) appear to be in remarkable shape, all thing considered. and one of the pictures woke a lot of us up.

That is a Grumman F4F-3 Wildcat fighter belonging to VF -31 The Tomcatters, commanded by John “Jimmy” Hatch who created the combat tactic the Thatch Weave. But two other things caught our attention. the pilot of this plane had four Japanese kills by May of 1942 less than six months after Pearl Harbor, and right there is Felix the Cat, The sign of the Tomcatters.

And some people dug into the records and now we know whose plane this is. It was the plane of LT Ed O’Hare. And he was one heroic pilot.

His record is very impressive, in the course of defending the Lexington, he became the first Navy winner of the Medal of honor in the Second World War, he was promoted to Lieutenant Commander and went down without trace in 1943. Chicago O’Hare airport and the destroyer USS O’Hare are both named after him.

If you’ve ever wondered why when you fly to Chicago your baggage stub says ORD, now you know, the ORD is the old name, it was renamed after Commander O’Hare. It started out as a military field in World War II named Orchard Field, in a town that is now defunct Orchard Place.

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4 Responses to Lady Lex

  1. the unit says:

    Intriguing story for sure. Imagine if the plane is salvaged and replaces to one on display in Terminal 2 at the O’Hare International Airport. 🙂

    Like

  2. Reblogged this on Practically Historical.

    Like

  3. I’m still a little shocked it wasn’t Ballard.

    Liked by 1 person

    • NEO says:

      I hadn’t thought of that, but yeah, it is surprising.

      Like

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