Thomas J. Hudner Jr.

Thomas J. Hudner Jr.
Thomas J Hudner 1950.jpg
Hudner in 1950
Birth nameThomas Jerome Hudner Jr.
Born(1924-08-31)August 31, 1924
Fall River, Massachusetts, U.S.
DiedNovember 13, 2017(2017-11-13) (aged 93)
Concord, Massachusetts, U.S.
Place of burial
Allegiance United States of America
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service1946–1973
RankUS Navy O6 infobox.svg Captain
Commands heldTraining Squadron 24

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

Born in Fall River, Massachusetts, Hudner attended Phillips Academy and the United States Naval Academy. Initially uninterested in aviation, he eventually took up flying and joined Fighter Squadron 32, flying the F4U Corsair at the outbreak of the Korean War. Arriving near Korea in October 1950, he flew support missions from the aircraft carrier USS Leyte.

On 4 December 1950, Hudner and Brown were among a group of pilots on patrol near the Chosin Reservoir when Brown's Corsair was struck by ground fire from 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 evacuate, having also been injured in the landing.

Following the incident, Hudner held positions aboard several U.S. Navy ships and with a number of aviation units, including a brief stint as executive officer of USS Kitty Hawk during a tour in the Vietnam War, before retiring in 1973. In subsequent years, he worked for various veterans' organizations in the United States. The Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Thomas Hudner is named for him.

Early life and education

Hudner was born 31 August 1924 in Fall River, Massachusetts. His father, Thomas Hudner Sr., was a businessman of Irish descent who ran a chain of grocery stores, Hudner's Markets.[2] Three brothers were later born, named James, Richard, and Phillip.[3]

Hudner entered the prestigious Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, in 1939.[4] His family had a long history in the academy, with his father graduating in 1911 and his uncle, Harold Hudner, graduating in 1921.[3] Eventually, the three younger Hudner children would attend the academy as well; James in 1944, Richard in 1946 and Phillip in 1954.[4] During his time in the high school, Thomas was active in several organizations, serving as a team captain in the school track team as well as a member of the football and lacrosse teams, a class officer, a member of student council, and an assistant house counselor.[3]

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