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Medal of Honor Recipient, Navy Pilot Buried With Full Honors at Arlington National Cemetery

Capt. Thomas Hudner (USN Ret.) salutes at the United States Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. / 3rd Class Mikelle D. Smith (USN)


Medal of Honor awardee Capt. Thomas J. Hudner, Jr., was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery on Wednesday.
Hudner, a Navy pilot, was awarded the nation’s highest military honor for his actions on Dec. 4, 1950, the U.S. Navy said in a statement.

Hudner received the Medal of Honor from President Harry S. Truman for “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty” during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War. During a mission, one of his fellow pilots, the Navy’s first African American naval aviator to fly in combat, Ensign Jesse L. Brown, was hit by anti-aircraft fire damaging a fuel line and causing him to crash. After it became clear Brown was seriously injured and unable to free himself, Hudner proceeded to purposefully crash his own aircraft to join Brown and provide aid. Hudner injured his own back during his crash landing, but stayed with Brown until a rescue helicopter arrived. Hudner and the rescue pilot worked in the sub-zero, snow-laden area in an unsuccessful attempt to free Brown from the smoking wreckage. Although the effort to save Brown was not successful, Hudner was recognized for the heroic attempt.

President Harry S. Truman awarded Hudner the Medal of Honor on April 13, 1951, with Brown’s widow, Daisy, present. Hudner and Daisy remained friends for the 50 years following.

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