CPT Thomas Jerome Hudner Jr.

CPT Thomas Jerome Hudner Jr.

Birth
Fall River, Bristol County, Massachusetts, USA
Death 13 Nov 2017 (aged 93)
Concord, Middlesex County, Massachusetts, USA
Burial Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA
Plot Section 54 Grave 2135
Memorial ID 185176301 · View Source
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Korean War Congressional Medal of Honor Recipient. Born into a well-off New England family which operated a chain of meat and grocery stores, Thomas was an exceptional athlete who participated in football. track and lacrosse during his high school years. In 1943, he gained entry at the United States Naval Academy in Annapolis and following a six month assignment on a ship, he was ordered to Pearl Harbor where he was to serve as a communications officer. In 1948, he began his training to be a pilot and received his wings in August of 1949. He was assigned to the aircraft carrier, the USS Leyte. Also assigned to the USS Leyte was Ensign Jesse Brown who made history as being the first African American aviator to serve in US Navy. On December 4, 1950, Hudner was part of a squadron (which also included Brown) flying a reconnaissance mission over the Chosin Reservoir. Brown's plane was hit by enemy antiaircraft fire and descended quickly. He crash landed, barely surviving with serious injuries. Brown was spotted by the remaining pilots waving his hand as smoke poured out from his mangled plane. Hudner made the decision to land his plane in an attempt to save him. Following a hard landing, Hudner made the 100 yard trek in the snow and ice to Brown's plane. Brown's knee was pinned between the bent fuselage and central instrument column. Seeing how badly injured Brown was, Hudner did his best to keep him warm from the elements while using the snow to try and extinguish the engine which was on fire. After the rescue pilot which Hudner radioed for arrived, he assisted with trying to free Brown from the wreckage, however the pair was forced to retreat as it grew darker. Brown would succumb to his injuries during the night. On April 13, 1951, Hudner received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman during a ceremony at the White House. The citation reads "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 scant hope of escape or survival in subzero temperate, 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". Lieutenant Charlie Ward, the pilot who assisted Hudner was awarded a Sliver Star and Ensign Jesse Brown was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Hudner remained in the Navy and served at various capacities until his retirement in 1973. He later worked in the consulting field in his native Massachusetts. In 1988, he became the Deputy Commissioner of Veteran Services and rose to Commissioner. He is the namesake of USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116), an Arliegh Burke (DDG 51) Class Destroyer commissioned in Boston on December 1, 2018.

Bio by: C.S.

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  • Maintained by: Find a Grave
  • Originally Created by: C.S.
  • Added: 13 Nov 2017
  • Find a Grave Memorial 185176301
  • Find a Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for CPT Thomas Jerome Hudner Jr. (31 Aug 1924–13 Nov 2017), Find a Grave Memorial no. 185176301, citing Arlington National Cemetery, Arlington, Arlington County, Virginia, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .