Lt. j.g. Thomas Jerome Hudner, JR.
In October of 1948, Ensign Jesse L. Brown became the first black Navy aviator while stationed with VF-32 (Quonset Point NAS , Rhode Island) and became the first to fire his guns in combat. On 4 December 1950, in the Chosin Reservoir area, Korea, Ensign Brown was shot down behind enemy lines. LTJG Hudner, who was Brown's squadronmate, attempted an unsuccessful, daring rescue and subsequently received the Medal of Honor. Flying from the USS Leyte (CV-32), Quonset's CAG-3 later dropped napalm on the crash site consuming Brown's remains.
Medal of Honor
Rank and organization: Lieutenant (j.g.) U.S. Navy, pilot in Fighter Squadron 32, attached to U.S.S. Leyte. Place and date: Chosin Reservoir area of Korea, 4 December 1950. Entered service at: Fall River, Mass. Born: 31 August 1924, Fall River, Mass.
Citation. For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a pilot in Fighter Squadron 32, while attempting to rescue a squadron mate whose plane struck by antiaircraft fire and trailing smoke, was forced down behind enemy lines. Quickly maneuvering to circle the downed pilot and protect him from enemy troops infesting the area, Lt. (j.g.) Hudner risked his life to save the injured flier who was trapped alive in the burning wreckage. Fully aware of the extreme danger in landing on the rough mountainous terrain and the scant hope of escape or survival in subzero temperature, he put his plane down skillfully in a deliberate wheels-up landing in the presence of enemy troops. With his bare hands, he packed the fuselage with snow to keep the flames away from the pilot and struggled to pull him free. Unsuccessful in this, he returned to his crashed aircraft and radioed other airborne planes, requesting that a helicopter be dispatched with an ax and fire extinguisher. He then remained on the spot despite the continuing danger from enemy action and, with the assistance of the rescue pilot, renewed a desperate but unavailing battle against time, cold, and flames. Lt. (j.g.) Hudner's exceptionally valiant action and selfless devotion to a shipmate sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.
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