With the Huns When He Was Brought Down and Made Prisoner.
from Outwitting The Hun
via email from Kevin McNulty, 11-14-10
I have extensive information on Lt. Pat O'Brien as I will be publishing his life story in January following 4 years of research and writing. His story is extensive beyond his flying career and I anticipate the the book - which is over 100,000 words will become a movie as well.
Perhaps a small summary of Pat would suffice for your site. He is from my home town and still has relatives there. He published his own book, was in the movies, spoke in every major venue in the United States, crashed a second time - was involved in some undercover operations with the Allied Expeditionary forces in Siberia and many, many other events in his short life. He crashed a second time and survived training U.S. flyers in Texas in 1919 - this time from 2,000 feet. As you likely know he crashed behind enemy lines in 1917, shot through the jaw, was captured and escaped the Germans by jumping out of a prison transfer train where he proceeded to walk 72 days through Belgium clearing a 9 foot electronic fence into Holland. He was decorated by the King in Buckingham Palace in a private visit (for one hour) before returning home. He is from my hometown of Momence, IL. He died at age 30. He didn't leave home until age 15. There is much more about Pat that will startle you and many true stories that will appear in my book.
Editor's Note: I thank Kevin for sharing this information with us. When his book becomes available, I hope to announce it on this page.
via email from Judy Hoffman, 3-18-06
His middle name was Alva. He came from a large family in Momence, Illinois. He was the second youngest of eight children. He had two sisters and 5 brothers. To my knowledge he has a nephew who is still living in Momence.
The family story was that he was murdered, but suicide is not an eager subject to discuss in families. His demons obviously got the better of him. He would have made a very handsome actor for his day.
Thanks for your research on him.
WHILE MENTALLY UNBALANCED, BELIEF
Los Angeles, California - 12-19-1920,
Collection of Mike Kline,
Los Angeles, Dec. 18, -- Declaration that she had feared to meet her husband because of a premonition that a tragedy was impending, was sobbed out today by his widow, as authorities espressed the opinion that Lieut. Pat O'Brien, noted war aviator, had shot and killed himself at a downtown hotel while mentally unbalanced.
Mrs. O'Brien, lying on a cot in her room at her hotel and suffering from the shock, emphatically denied the statement made by her husband, in a suicide note, that Mrs. Sarah Ottis was responsible for their troubles.
"I was in mortal fear of Pat and I was afraid to live with him for fear he would take my life. That is why I dreaded to go to his room when he telephoned that he wanted to talk with me," said Mrs. O/Brien.
"Mrs. Ottis was just a friend to us, more like a mother than anything else and I do not know what I would have done if she had not comforted me in my terrible distress. She was not to blame and I feel I must contradict this awful statement left by my husband."
"Mr. O'Brien and I were married at Chicago. We came to Los Angeles in June and he and I both worked in motion pictures. As time went on he became subject to terrible fits of temper. He often struck me."
"Mrs. Ottis, who had known both of us for several years, came from Chicago two months ago to visit us."
It was stated that Mrs. O'Brien fled hurriedly from her Hollywood home at 3 a. m. yesterday following a quarrel with her husband. Mrs. Ottis was with Mrs. O'Brien at the time, it was said. Mrs. Ottis, who is the mother of a girl aged about 20, with her daughter, accompanied Mrs. O'Brien to the downtown hotel, and they took adjoning suites.
While friends cared for the widow, the opinion was expressed that O'Brien was mentally unbalanced as a result of his battle experience and also because of threats and opposition that he encountered while starring recently in an anti-Japanese picture.
This opposition was so great that the great film fell short of the financial success that had been anticipated by O'Brien and his associates.
Failing to see his wife, O'Brien went to his room last night and shot himself with a .45 caliber army automatic pistol after he had written five notes to his wife.
via email from Ralph Jacobs, 10-18-07
I came across your website while looking up some information on Lt Pat O'Brien. In my family he is generally referred to as "Uncle Pat" and my relation to him is through my grandmother who is Margaret (O'Brien) Jacobs. I have several pictures of Lt. O'Brien and a copy of his book. I'm fairly certain that my uncle either has or had his Military Cross. I had heard he loaned it to the Champlain Air Museum in Mesa, AZ, but I recently found out that the museum was sold to the Museum of Flight in Seattle.
I don't have any additional information for you, but if I'm able to track down what became of the Military Cross, I'll send you the information if you are interested.
Editor's Note: I thank Ralph for this additional information. Every little bit helps to tell the story. I hope he will share some of the pictures of Lt. O'Brien with us and with any luck, may even locate the Military Cross.