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Posted on Jul 20, 2011 in Stuff We Like

First African-American Naval Aviator to be Honored July 28

By Media Release

The following is taken from a media release sent to Armchair General.

Ensign Jesse L. Brown, the U.S. Navy's first African-American naval aviator.Ensign Jesse L. Brown was the first African-American naval aviator in the U.S. Navy. Brown enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1946 and was appointed a Midshipman in 1947 while attending Ohio State University.  After attending Navy pre-flight school and flight training, Brown was designated a Naval Aviator in late 1948.  He received his commission as Ensign in April 1949.

During the Korean War, his squadron, VF-32, operated from USS Leyte (CV-32), flying F4U-4 Corsair fighters in support of United Nations forces.  On 4 December 1950, while on a close air support mission in the Chosin Reservoir, Ensign Brown’s plane was hit by enemy fire and crash-landed.  Brown’s squadron mates thought he was dead, until they saw him slide back his canopy and wave.  Wingman LT (jg) Thomas J. Hudner, Jr. intentionally crash-landed his Corsair to attempt to save his friend, who was in shock and pinned in his aircraft.  As daylight faded and with Hudner at his side Jesse Brown passed away.  Ensign Jesse L. Brown was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his Korean War combat service and Lt. (jg) Hudner, Jr. was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions that day.


To honor the United States Navy’s first African-American Naval Aviator, Jesse L. Brown, the U.S. Navy Memorial will host a special film screening and panel discussion.  Commemorating the anniversary of the integration of the U.S. Armed Forces in the Centennial of Naval Aviation, close friend, wingman to Ensign Brown, Lone Sailor Award and Medal of Honor recipient Captain Thomas J. Hudner, Jr., U.S. Navy (Ret.) will moderate the event. See details below.


Thursday, July 28, 2011
6:00pm – 8:00pm

WHERE: United States Navy Memorial
Naval Heritage Center
701 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C.

COST: Free and open to the public

Three periods converge to merit national reflection and form a historic lens for this narrative: the 60th Anniversary of the Korean War, the 2011 Centennial of Naval Aviation, and the July 26, 1948 Anniversary of Integration of the U.S. Armed Forces.

The special event is presented by the U.S. Navy Memorial, the Department of Defense 60th Anniversary of the Korean War Commemoration Committee, the University of Central Florida Community Veterans History Project, Zora Neale Hurston Institute for Documentary Studies, University of Central Florida College of Arts & Humanities, and the Veterans History Project of the library of Congress American Folklife Center.