Once safely back aboard the Lexington, all hands took stock of the situation. O’Hare’s demonstration of courage, airmanship and gunnery had been outstanding. Admiral Brown and Captain Sherman, the Lexington’s CO both concluded it was very likely that O’Hare’s heroic efforts probably saved the carrier from serious damage or even total destruction. Since America had only a handful of fast fleet carriers the loss of any one of them would have dealt a severe blow to US naval operations throughout the Pacific.
At the end of March LT. O’Hare returned to Pearl Harbor to a hero’s welcome. He was soon ordered stateside and, as America’s first air ace of the conflict toured the nation, visiting defense plants and giving morale and war bond speeches. As he wrote to the dedicated employees of the Grumman aircraft plant on Long Island where his Wildcat fighter was built, “You build them, we’ll fly them and between us we can’t be beaten.”
On 21 April 1942, O’Hare was awarded the Medal of Honor in a White House ceremony with President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was also promoted to the rank of lieutenant commander. As a humble hero, Butch O'Hare was described in news accounts of the ceremony as "…Modest, inarticulate, humorous, terribly nice and more than a little embarrassed by the whole thing."
LCDR O’Hare returned to Hawaii in June of 1942, assuming command of VF-3 from his mentor, LCDR Thach. US military doctrine at the time dictated that the Navy’s best combat pilots be rotated into training slots to pass on their hard-learned lessons to the next generation of naval aviators.