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ENS Jesse LeRoy Brown

ENS Jesse LeRoy Brown

Hattiesburg, Forrest County, Mississippi, USA
Death 4 Dec 1950 (aged 24)
North Korea
Burial Body lost or destroyed
Plot Remians unrecovered after crash
Memorial ID 20596 · View Source
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United States Navy Officer. He was the first African-American pilot in the United States Navy, and was the first black naval officer to lose his life in combat during the Korean War. Born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, after graduating from the Ohio State University he accepted an appointment as a midshipman in the United States Navy. He completed his Navy pre-flight training at Ottumwa, Iowa, followed with flight training at Pensacola and Jacksonville, Florida, and received his wings at the navy's first black pilot on October 21, 1948. He then joined Fighter Squadron 32 on board the aircraft carrier "USS Wright", (CVL-49)and was commissioned an Ensign on April 15, 1949. His squadron later embarked on carrier "USS Leyte" (CV-32) and joined Fast Carrier Task Force 77 in support of the United Nations Forces in Korea in October 1950. As a pilot of Fighter Squadron 32, Ensign Brown became a section leader and received the Air Medal for daring attacks against the enemy at Wonsan, Chongjin, Songjin, and Sinanju. Leading his section in the face of hostile anti-aircraft fire, he courageously pressed home attacks that inflicted heavy losses on the enemy and provided effective support for friendly ground troops. On December 4, 1950, while aggressively providing close air support to the United States Marines fighting near the Chosin Reservoir, his Corsair aircraft was struck by enemy fire. It lost power and, he had to crash-land it. His squadron mate, Captain (then Lieutenant, junior grade) Thomas J. Hudner, crash-landed his plane alongside near Brown's aircraft in a heroic rescue attempt (his efforts he earned the Congressional Medal of Honor). Lieutenant Hudner was unable to free Brown, who was badly injured in the crash and whose leg was stuck between the crumpled fuselage and hydraulic control panel of his aircraft. 45 minutes later, Marine First Lieutenant Charlie Ward arrived in a rescue helicopter, but the two men were still unable to free Brown. Having to depart at dusk since the helicopter was not equipped to fly at night, Ensign Brown told Hudner that if he did not survive, to tell his wife Daisy how much he loved her. Prior to his departure, Hudner spoke to Brown, but got no response. Weather prevent any return to the site until December 7. Since the site was in enemy territory Hudner recommended against a helicopter mission with a flight surgeon to extricate Brown's body. He recommended a flyover, during which time Brown's body was seen still in the cockpit of the Corsair, but stripped of all clothing, evidence of the desperation of local Koreans for clothing items. The pilots, all of whom knew Brown, dropped napalm on his and Hudner's aircrafts. Today, the rusted hulks of the aircraft can still be seen from observation satellites (Latitude 40 degrees, 36' N, Longitude 127 degrees 06). Ensign Brown was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. the frigate "USS Jesse L. Brown" (DE/FF/FFT-1089) was named by the Navy in his honor.

Bio by: Warrick L. Barrett

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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Added: 28 Feb 2001
  • Find A Grave Memorial 20596
  • Find A Grave, database and images ( : accessed ), memorial page for ENS Jesse LeRoy Brown (13 Oct 1926–4 Dec 1950), Find A Grave Memorial no. 20596, ; Maintained by Find A Grave Body lost or destroyed.