A unique honor has been bestowed upon a living war hero from Massachusetts.
The U.S. Navy officially named a destroyer after Thomas Hudner, a native of Fall River who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for intentionally crashing his fighter plane during the Korean War in an attempt to save the Navy's first African-American pilot.
As the Boston Globe reported last month, when Massachusetts' two senators pushed for the naming, it's "a rare honor for a living person usually bestowed only on American presidents and other political leaders." On May 8, the Navy announced the USS Thomas Hudner honor.
WBUR's Alex Ashlock provided the background for our Newscast unit:
On Dec. 4, 1950, Hudner was a 26-year-old fighter pilot in the Korean War when his fellow serviceman, Ensign Jesse Brown, the first black pilot in Navy history, was hit by anti-aircraft fire and crashed.
Hudner then deliberately crashed his plane in deep snow and, with a Marine rescue pilot, engaged in a desperate and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to save Brown.
The next April, Alex reported, President Harry Truman made Hudner the first American serviceman to receive the Medal of Honor during the Korean War.
Now, the retired captain and 87-year-old Concord resident is the last living Navy Medal of Honor recipient from the Korean War.
"I’m very flattered and humbled," Hudner told the Fall River Herald News when the Navy announced the destroyer naming two weeks ago. "I knew something like this was in the works, but I didn’t think it would happen. I’m just very pleased about the whole thing."
Following his Medal of Honor in 1951, the Herald News reported that Hudner completed 22 more years of Navy service.
The naming ceremony for the USS Thomas Hudner took place on Tuesday aboard the USS Constitution in the Charlestown Navy Yard.
-- Here's video of Hudner discussing the Brown crash for the "Medal of Honor" book:
This program aired on May 22, 2012. The audio for this program is not available.