Retired Veteran Heads To North Korea To Find Remains Of Navy’s First Black Pilot, Jesse Brown

Source: AP / New York Daily News

SEOUL, South Korea — Two years after he made history by becoming the Navy’s first black pilot, Ensign Jesse Brown lay trapped in his downed fighter plane in subfreezing North Korea, his leg broken and bleeding. His wingman crash-landed to try to save him, and even burned his hands trying to put out the flames.

A chopper hovered nearby. Lt. j.g. Thomas Hudner could save himself, but not his friend. With the light fading, the threat of enemy fire all around him and Brown losing consciousness, the white son of a New England grocery-store magnate made a promise to the black son of a sharecropper.

“We’ll come back for you.”

More than 60 years have passed. Hudner is now 88. But he did not forget. He is coming back.

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