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First Name: Thomas

Last Name: Hudner Jr.

Birthplace: Fall River, MA, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Navy (present)


Home of Record: Annapolis, MD
Middle Name: Jerome

Date of Birth: 31 August 1924

Date of Death: 13 November 2017

Rank or Rate: Captain

Years Served: 1946-1973
Thomas Jerome Hudner Jr.

Graduate, U.S. Naval Academy, Class of 1946

•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)
•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Thomas Jerome "Lou" Hudner, Jr.
Captain, U.S. Navy
Medal of Honor Recipient
Korean War

Thomas Jerome Hudner, Jr. was born on 31 August 1924, in Fall River, MA. Hudner attended the prestigious Phillips Academy in Andover, MA, before entering the U.S. Naval Academy and graduating with the class of 1946. Following service in surface ships and ashore, he attended flight school and was designated a Naval Aviator in August 1949. Later that year, he was assigned to Fighter Squadron 32 (VF-32) aboard USS Leyte (CV-32).

On 4 December 1950, Hudner was serving with VF-32 during the Korean War. While flying his F4U-4 Corsair fighter in support of United Nations forces, he crash-landed his plane near the Chosin reservoir in an effort to rescue Ensign Jesse L. Brown, another VF-32 pilot whose F4U-4 Corsair had been shot down. He found Ensign Brown severely wounded and pinned in his cockpit by metal wreckage. Lt. Hudner worked bravely to free the injured pilot, despite severe cold, and having no tools at his disposal apart from a small hand ax. For his heroism on that occasion, Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Hudner was awarded the Medal of Honor.

Medal of Honor

Rank and organization: Lieutenant (J.G.) U.S. Navy, pilot in Fighter Squadron 32, attached to USS Leyte

Place and date: Chosin Reservoir area of Korea, 4 December 1950.

Lt. (J.G.) Hudner's official Medal of Honor 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 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.

Hudner was presented with the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman on 13 April 1951, during a ceremony in the White House Rose Garden.


Hudner received the first Navy Medal Of Honor awarded in Korea.

Ensign Jessie Brown, who Hudner attempted to rescue, was the first black Naval Aviator, and the first Black American Naval officer to lose his life in combat.

After the War

Following his tour with VF-32, Thomas J. Hudner held a variety of training, operational and staff assignments. He commanded Training Squadron 24 (VT-24) in 1965-66 and then served as Executive Officer of USS Kitty Hawk.

During the early 1970s, Captain Hudner was Head of Aviation Technical Training in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. He retired from the Navy in February 1973 with the rank of Captain.

After retiring, Hudner worked as a management consultant and, from 1991 to 1999, served as Commissioner for the Massachusetts Department of Veterans' Services. He appeared in a 1999 miniseries documentary, The Korean War: Fire and Ice, aired by the History Channel.

As of 2001, he was living in Concord, MA, with his wife, Georgea.

Honoree ID: 1174   Created by: MHOH




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