Thomas J. Hudner Jr.

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Thomas J. Hudner, Jr.
Birth nameThomas Jerome Hudner, Jr.
Born(1924-08-31)August 31, 1924
Fall River, Massachusetts
DiedNovember 13, 2017(2017-11-13) (aged 93)
Concord, Massachusetts
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service1946–1973
Commands heldTraining Squadron 24
AwardsMedal of Honor

Thomas Jerome Hudner, Jr. (August 31, 1924 – November 13, 2017) was a retired officer of the United States Navy. He is also a former naval aviator. He rose to the rank of captain. He received the Medal of Honor for his actions trying to save the life of his wingman, Ensign Jesse L. Brown. It was during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War.

Biography[change | change source]

He was born in Fall River, Massachusetts. He was a student at Phillips Academy and the United States Naval Academy. At first he was not interested in aviation, but later he learned to fly and joined Fighter Squadron 32. He flew a F4U Corsair at the start of the Korean War. Arriving near Korea in October 1950, he flew support missions from the USS Leyte.

On 4 December 1950 Hudner and Brown were among a group of pilots on patrol near the Chosin Reservoir. Brown's Corsair was shot by Chinese troops and crashed. In an attempt to save Brown from his burning aircraft, Hudner intentionally crash-landed his own aircraft on a snowy mountain in freezing temperatures to help Brown. In spite of these efforts, Brown died of his injuries and Hudner was forced to leave, having also been injured in the landing.

Later, Hudner served aboard several U.S. Navy ships and with a number of aviation units, including a short time as Executive Officer of the USS Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War, before retiring in 1973. After retiring, he worked for veterans organizations in the United States. He lived in Concord, Massachusetts. The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Thomas Hudner is named for him.

Hudner died at his home in Concord, Massachusetts on November 13, 2017 at the age of 93.[2][3]

Medal of Honor citation[change | change source]

Hudner was one of 11 men awarded the Medal of Honor during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir.[4] He was the first of seven U.S. Navy servicemen, and the only Naval aviator, to be awarded the Medal of Honor in the Korean War.[5]

A light blue neck ribbon with a gold star shaped medallion hanging from it. The ribbon is similar in shape to a bowtie with 13 white stars in the center of the ribbon.

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.[6]

Related pages[change | change source]

References[change | change source]

  1. Collier & Del Calzo 2006, p. 126.
  2. "Thomas J. Hudner, war hero and veterans' affairs commissioner, dies at 93". Boston Globe. November 13, 2017. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
  3. "Decorated Veteran Who Received Birthday Surprise From Navy Dies". CBS. November 13, 2017. Retrieved November 13, 2017.
  4. Ecker 2004, p. 63.
  5. Ecker 2004, p. 69.
  6. Ecker 2004, p. 70.

Sources[change | change source]

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the United States Army Center of Military History.

Online sources

Other websites[change | change source]