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“I assured him that we would get him out of there, although I was very pessimistic about it, but had to give him some words of consolation.” (Audio interview, 19:26)

   Thomas Jerome Hudner, Jr.
Image of Thomas Jerome Hudner, Jr.
Thomas Hudner receiving the Congressional Medal of Honor from President Harry Truman [1951]
War: Korean War, 1950-1953; Vietnam War, 1961-1975
Branch: Navy; Navy
Unit: USS Helena (CA 75); VF-32 (Fighter Squadron), USS Leyte (CV 32); Naval Air Advanced Training Command (NAATC); Executive Officer, USS Kitty Hawk (CVA 63); Staff, Joint Chiefs of Staff; 60th Fighter-Interceptor Squadron; Air War College; VF-53 (Fighter Squadron), USS Ticonderoga (CVA 14); VT-24 (Training Squadron); Commander in Chief Pacific Command (CINCPAC)
Service Location: Annapolis, Maryland; Pearl Harbor, Hawaii; Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, Florida; Naval Air Station (NAS) Corpus Christi, Texas; Lebanon; Korea; also: Otis Air Force Base, Massachusetts; Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama; North Island, California; Vietnam
Rank: Lieutenant; Captain
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A 1946 graduate of the Naval Academy, Lieutenant Thomas Jerome Hudner arrived off the coast of Korea in early October 1950, a few months after the beginning of the Korean War. A pilot serving with the VF-32 fighter squadron, one of his most notable experiences began on December 4th, 1950. During an armed reconnaissance mission near the Chosin Reservoir, in which they were dispatched to provide support to the Marines fighting there, his wingman’s plane was hit and went down. In an attempt to save the pilot—who was Ensign Jesse Brown, the Navy’s first African American aviator—Hudner purposely crash-landed his own plane nearby, waded through a foot of snow over to Brown’s wrecked aircraft, and attempted to extricate him from the cockpit. Though Brown ultimately died from his wounds, Hudner was awarded the Medal of Honor for his bravery.

Interview (Video)
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Interview (Audio)
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 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (6 items)
Context for incident in which Ensign Jesse Brown was shot down. (02:04) Flying north of the Chosin Reservoir; Brown radioing that he was losing power; seeing Brown wave for help. (02:53) Making the decision to crash land; going over to Brown’s cockpit where he was trapped; Brown’s condition; reassuring him. (04:46)
Arrival of the helicopter; working with pilot to free Brown; Brown’s speech deteriorating; deciding to go get help; not being able to get back to the crash site; going back three days later to cremate the body. (07:27) Description of Brown, and the barriers that he had overcome. (03:55) Receiving the Medal of Honor; impression of President Truman. (04:26)
  
 

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  October 26, 2011
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