Updates from the Veterans History Project (VHP): In Memoriam: Thomas Jerome Hudner, Jr.

This week, we mourn Medal of Honor recipient Thomas Jerome Hudner, Jr.
Through an incredible act of comradery – and a Civil Rights milestone – Hudner risked his life to aid Ensign Jesse L. Brown, the first African-American naval aviator. During an interview conducted by the Concord Oral History Program, Hudner described the fateful armed reconnaissance flight of December 4, 1950. Damaged by ground fire, Ensign Brown lost control of his aircraft and Hudner, his wingman, “made a decision to make a crash landing next to his aircraft to pull him out of the cockpit and await the helicopter.” In 10 degree weather, Hudner and the rescue team struggled to free Ensign Brown, however, their rescue axes proved insufficient and as the sun set, Brown remained trapped in his cockpit. Nearly 40 years after the event, Hudner remembers Brown’s last words, “well, if anything does happen, to make sure I told his wife that he loved her." 
In 2011, the American Folklife Center commemorated the integration of the U.S. Armed Forces through a film series centered on Ensign Brown. A panel moderated by Thomas Hudner included Brown’s family, flight instructor, a shipmate, an acting of the Secretary of the Navy, and museum staff inspired by his story.  
The Mission of the Veterans History Project of the Library of Congress American Folklife Center is to collect, preserve and make accessible the personal accounts of American war veterans so that future generations may hear directly from veterans and better understand the realities of war. Learn more at www.loc.gov/vets. Share your exciting VHP initiatives, programs, events and news stories with VHP to be considered for a future RSS. Email vohp@loc.gov and place “My VHP RSS Story” in the subject line.
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