A Promise Kept

| July 22, 2013

Two days ago, a US Korean War veteran landed in Pyongyang, Korea.  His name is Thomas Hudner.

Hudner was a Naval aviator during the Korean War.  On 4 December 1950, his wingman – Jesse Brown – was shot down near the Chosin Reservoir.

Hudner located the crash site, and noted his wingman was still alive. He then crash-landed his own aircraft near the remains of Brown’s plane.  He attempted to save his wingman.

Sadly, Brown was severely injured – possibly fatally.  And in any case, Hudner was unable to free him, even after air-rescue arrived.

Hudner stayed with his wingman until he’d lost consciousness.  The he departed with search and rescue.

Brown’s last words to Hudner were a whispered, “If I don’t make it, please tell Daisy I love her.”  (Daisy was Brown’s wife.)  Hudner agreed. 

Hudner’s last words to Brown were, “We’ll come back for you.”

Hudner indeed kept the first promise: he sought out and told Mrs. Daisy Brown her late husband’s final words. And although it’s taken over 62 years, he’s now kept both promises.

Hudner is in Pyongyang with a JPAC search party. They have secured permission to search for Ensign Jesse Brown’s body near the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea.

. . .

For the record: ENS Jesse L. Brown was the first African-American Naval Aviator. He was also the first US Navy officer killed in Korea. Obviously, that means that LT(JG) Thomas Hudner was white.

Doug Sterner’s excellent site “Home of Heroes” has a wonderful article that gives much more background on LT(JG) Hudner and ENS Brown. Go there and read it; it’s definitely worth your time. Keep a kleenex or two handy.

Doug’s article is entitled “No Man Should Die Alone”. I probably don’t need to explain what that means to anyone reading this site.

For his actions that day, ENS Jesse Brown was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. Sadly, it also came with a posthumous Purple Heart.

For his actions that day, LT(JG) Thomas Hudner was later awarded the Medal of Honor.

Category: Historical, Navy, Real Soldiers

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

The Author with them, Adam Makos called me and told me about this in February. I did a review of his book about the US and German pilots that later became friends. Excited for him and his success. Young dude and a great author.


This brought a tear to my eye. RIP ensign Brown

B Woodman

Damn! It’s dusty in here. Again.
RIP Ens Brown. I hope your remains are found soon.
You have a good friend (dare I say BFF? Emphasis on the FOREVER) in Lt Hudner.


damn, nothing more to say.

Old Tanker

Thanks for that. I’ve been stewing all day about the post I put about Jesse Ventura. This made me feel much better…even if it brought a tear to the eye…

And while I understand why you mentioned color most of here know it had nothing to do with anything, these guys were brothers…Thanks Hondo!


Dear Lord,

Thank you for such men!


Great couple of men, there. Indeed, thank G-d for them and others like them.

As always, Hondo, thanks for sharing with us.

AW1 Tim

I had heard about this story when I was younger, and again when I was in the Navy. It’d make a great movie, too.

Adam Makos has a great future as an author. He writes well, and his research is right up there with the best of them. I have an autographed copy of his first book, thanks to TSO, and it’s one I can’t recommend highly enough.


Capt. Hudner is an acquaintance and quite a humble man. Was Director of Ma Vet Affairs for awhile. I had the Honor of being his official escort for a Sea Bee ball once. He spoke of Ens.Brown and the ground troops in the Chosin Reservoir, nothing of himself.

PS You misspelled his name wrong in the second section, second paragraph. Is says Hubner instead of Hudner.


Awesome story. CAPT Hudner and ENS Brown, bless you for your service and sacrifice. The Navy is naming their newest destroyer for Captain Hudner.


God Bless them both.

Veritas Omnia Vincit

Yeah, this is pretty outstanding on every level. Great article and now I have a new book to read.

For the record, Kleenex doesn’t do anything for me, I need an extra strength Bounty paper towel….it’s because of my big lungs I blow through regular tissue…yeah that’s it…


@12 Hondo, Just looking out brother, doing that buddy check before patrol.

Sam Naomi

It looks to me as if I am about the oldest person thats a Korean Veteran here on TAH. I won’t reveal my age cause some of you might think that us old Korean Veterans are nothing more then history from the pass, maybe so, but one thing for sure,(I said I would’nt tell my age) but at 87 I think I am still up to holding my ground when it comes down to knowing just who my friends are, so with that said I just want you all to know that, being a breed from a group of the “Forgotten War” as it’s called, my deepest thanks to each of you here for keeping our history of the Korean war going, it’s a hell of alot more then their own organization is doing. I only wish we had a few more Korean Veterans here on TAH. My deep and sincere thanks to you all.

Sam (Where the tall corn grows)

Ptolemy in Egypt

Our DCG-M is giving a speech to Korean War veterans on the 27th- 60th anniversary of the armistice.

We worked this tremendous story into his remarks…wishing all the best to everyone who served and to Captain (retired) Hudner in his quest to bring his brother home to his family.


Thank you for your service, Sam!


Sam: As far as I am concerned, “Leave none behind,” includes our collective honor as well as our physical beings. I also don’t see anything generational about that sentiment. In my heart it applies to every single member of the military, past and present.

So thanks, again, for what you did to make life easier for me and mine. I remember picking up my Dad on the dock in San Francisco when he returned from Korea. Friends of mine did not get to greet their Dads. We honor all of them and you.