Saturday, July 31, 2010

Man of Honor, CAPT Tom Hudner

I traveled down to the other 93 Chelmsford Street (the one actually in Chelmsford) last night with Sam Meas to go see the ribbon-cutting for the office of Sandi Martinez, Republican candidate for 3rd Middlesex State Senate District.

My eyes nearly popped out of my head when I saw a gentleman named Tom, from Concord, there wearing a Medal of Honor. I didn't want to be too over-the-top about wanting to kiss the Blarney Stone, so to speak, but I figured if he's out wearing the MOH in public, it's okay to ask him at least the basics. He told me that he served on an aircraft carrier as a naval pilot during the Korean War. A Google search after I got home brought up his citation:


The President of the United States
in the name of The Congress
takes pleasure in presenting the

Medal of Honor

to

HUDNER, THOMAS JEROME, JR.

Rank and organization: Lieutenant (j.g.) U.S. Navy, pilot in Fighter Squadron 32, attached to U.S.S. Leyte. Place and date: Chosin Reservoir area of Korea, 4 December 1950. Entered service at: Fall River, Mass. Born: 31 August 1924, Fall River, Mass.

Citation.

For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as a pilot in Fighter Squadron 32, while attempting to rescue a squadron mate whose plane struck by antiaircraft fire and trailing smoke, was forced down behind enemy lines. Quickly maneuvering to circle the downed pilot and protect him from enemy troops infesting the area, Lt. (j.g.) Hudner risked his life to save the injured flier who was trapped alive in the burning wreckage. Fully aware of the extreme danger in landing on the rough mountainous terrain and the scant hope of escape or survival in subzero temperature, he put his plane down skillfully in a deliberate wheels-up landing in the presence of enemy troops. With his bare hands, he packed the fuselage with snow to keep the flames away from the pilot and struggled to pull him free. Unsuccessful in this, he returned to his crashed aircraft and radioed other airborne planes, requesting that a helicopter be dispatched with an ax and fire extinguisher. He then remained on the spot despite the continuing danger from enemy action and, with the assistance of the rescue pilot, renewed a desperate but unavailing battle against time, cold, and flames. Lt. (j.g.) Hudner's exceptionally valiant action and selfless devotion to a shipmate sustain and enhance the highest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service.