File this under “Getting It Right”:

May 07, 2012
Secretary of The Navy Announces DDG 116 to be Named Thomas Hudner

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced today the next Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer  (DDG) will be named the USS Thomas Hudner.
Thomas J. Hudner Jr., a naval aviator who retired as a captain, received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman for displaying uncommon valor during an attack on his wingman, the first African American naval aviator to fly in combat, Ensign Jesse L. Brown.  During the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War, anti-aircraft fire hit Brown’s aircraft, damaging a fuel line and causing him to crash.  After it became clear Brown was seriously injured and unable to free himself Hudner proceeded to purposefully crash his own aircraft to join Brown and provide aid.  Hudner injured his own back during his crash landing, but he stayed with Brown until a rescue helicopter arrived.  Hudner and the rescue pilot worked in the sub-zero, snow-laden area in an unsuccessful attempt to free Brown from the smoking wreckage.

Hudner is the last living Navy recipient of the Medal of Honor from the Korean War.

After receiving recognition for his heroism, Hudner remained on active duty, completing an additional 22 years of naval service during which his accomplishments include flying 27 combat missions in the Korean War and serving as the executive officer aboard the USS Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War.

“Thomas Hudner exemplifies the core values of honor, courage and commitment the Navy holds dear,” said Mabus.  “Naming the Navy’s next DDG for him will ensure his legacy will be known, honored and emulated by future generations of sailors and Marines who serve and all who come in contact with this ship.”

The Arleigh Burke class destroyer will be able to conduct a variety of operations, from peacetime presence and crisis management to sea control and power projection.  It will be capable of fighting air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously and will contain a myriad of offensive and defensive weapons designed to support maritime warfare in keeping with the Navy’s ability to execute the Department of Defense’s defense strategy.

From the MOH 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.

In his own words:


In 1973, the United States Navy honored Ensign Brown by naming a frigate after him, the USS JESSE L. BROWN (FFT-1089). Captain Hudner stood beside Daisy Brown when the ship slid down the ways.

See also: “Ethos & A Navy At War


  1. Most excellent! I have had the honor to shake Captain Hudner’s hand and thank him directly for his service. He was one of several MOH recipients who were at the Seattle Museum of Flight on Veteran’s day in 2006. A fantastic day, getting to meet some of the most humble men you will ever get to meet.

  2. Michael Lindy

    I worked in the Air Department Office for (at the time Commander Hudner)in 1966 when he was the Air Boss aboard the USS Kitty Hawk. I still have my Liberty Card that he signed.

    It was an honor to serve with Captain Hudner and he was a great boss.

    Years ago I was reading a Magazine Section of the Chicago Tribune around the 4th of July which was dedicated to Medal of Honor recipients and there was Captain Hudner.

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