Medal of Honor Recipient: Navy LT(jg) Tom Hudner

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On this date 68 years ago, December 4, 1950, a young US Navy Lieutenant Junior Grade risked his life to save a fellow naval aviator.

LT(jg) Tom Hudner and ENS Jesse Brown were both providing air support for US Marines on the ground in Korea.  Here is their story, as told by writer and historian Tara Ross:

By Tara Ross

During this week in 1950, Lt. (J.G.) Thomas Hudner crash lands in Korea. He was trying to save the life of Ensign Jesse Brown, the first black aviator in the U.S. Navy.

Not that Tom thought of Jesse that way. When Tom looked at Jesse, he didn’t see “the first black aviator.” He simply saw a friend. And he couldn’t leave his friend to die.

The Korean War was then waging, and Tom and Jesse were both assigned to USS Leyte. Their job was to provide air support for U.S. Marines on the ground. Unfortunately, things took a bad turn on December 4, 1950.

Jesse’s plane had taken a mortal hit. He had to land somewhere—and fast. Tom stayed on Jesse’s wing the whole way down, helping him through check lists. Then he watched his friend’s crash landing with dread, searching for signs of life.

What a relief when he saw Jesse waving from the wreckage! And what confusion when Jesse didn’t get out of the plane. What was wrong? Wisps of smoke began to waft from the plane, providing even more cause for worry.

“When I realized that Jesse’s airplane may burst into flame before [a helicopter] could get there,” Tom later said, “I made a decision to make a wheels-up landing, crash close enough to his airplane and pull him out of the cockpit and wait for the helicopter to come.”

Think about that. Tom had just witnessed a crash landing in terrible conditions. The weather was unbelievably cold, hovering around 0 degrees. Tom had been afraid that Jesse wouldn’t survive—but now he was determined to replicate the same nearly impossible feat.

“The ground seemed to rush at me as I hit,” Tom later reported, “and then I was out of control, snowplowing across the field and hoping I was going to end up somewhere close to Jesse.”

He’d done it. His back hurt so much that he thought he’d broken something, but he got out of his mangled plane, working through deep snow to find his friend.

The situation was serious. Jesse was alive, but his knee was trapped. Flames were sputtering, threatening to engulf the plane. Tom shoved snow on the fire to contain it. He pulled and pulled on Jesse, but to no avail. He wrapped Jesse’s hands and feet to ward off freezing temperatures. Both men waited, together, for a rescue helicopter.

Jesse was calm and composed. “When we were on the ground, he was calming me down,” Tom later told Daisy, Jesse’s widow, “when I should have been the one calming him down.”

Jesse seemed to be slipping in and out of consciousness. Finally, he revived enough to say: “Just tell Daisy how much I love her.”

After 40 long minutes, the helicopter finally arrived. Tom got an ax and swung it at Jesse’s plane repeatedly, but to no avail. Night was falling. The helicopter pilot gave Tom a choice: stay or go?

Tom still wavered. It was suicide to stay overnight in those freezing temperatures. He was prepared to stay if Jesse were alive, but Jesse had been unresponsive for a while.

“I made the decision to go with Charlie,” Tom later said. “I told Jesse we were going back to get equipment . . . I don’t know if he heard me. I don’t know if he was alive at the time.”

Tom felt sure that he would be court-martialed! He wasn’t supposed to crash land, even to save a fellow pilot. What a surprise when he was recommended for the Medal of Honor instead?

“There has been no finer act of unselfish heroism in military history,” the captain of Tom’s aircraft carrier would say.

Captain Thomas Hudner passed away about a year ago, at the age of 93. RIP, sir.

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If you enjoy these history posts, please know that it is important to LIKE, SHARE & COMMENT. This site’s algorithm will weed these posts out of your news feed if you do not interact with them. (I don’t make the rules! Just following them.) 

Gentle reminder: History posts are copyright © 2013-2018 by Tara Ross. I appreciate it when you use the Facebook “share” feature instead of cutting/pasting.

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Editor’s Note:

Tara Ross is a mother, wife, writer, and retired lawyer. She is the author of The Indispensable Electoral College: How the Founders’ Plan Saves Our Country from Mob Rule,Enlightened Democracy: The Case for the Electoral College, co-author of Under God: George Washington and the Question of Church and State (with Joseph C. Smith, Jr.), & We Elect A President: The Story of our Electoral College. She is a constitutionalist, but with a definite libertarian streak! 


 

Medal of Honor Recipient LT M. P. Murphy

 

Today is May 7, 2018.  Medal of Honor recipient Navy SEAL LT Michael P. Murphy would have been 42 years old today.

Below is the essay on today’s “Medal of Honor Monday” post from historian Tara Ross and her history Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/TaraRoss.1787/

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by Tara Ross

On this day in 1976, a future Medal of Honor recipient is born. U.S. Navy SEAL Lt. Michael P. Murphy would become the first sailor to receive the Medal since the Vietnam War.

It’s been said that Murphy’s “death was cut from the same cloth as his life.” Indeed, the young Lieutenant had long been known as the “Protector” among his family and friends. He was that guy at school—and in life—who stood up to bullies. No one would be battered or harassed in his presence. “That was Michael’s way,” his father would conclude.

It was a way that continued, even after college.

Murphy could have chosen an easier path. He’d graduated from Penn State in 1998 and could have gone to law school. He could have married his college girlfriend and had a family. But that wasn’t “Michael’s way.” Instead, he chose to serve. He became a Navy SEAL.

Which is how he found himself leading a four-man Navy SEAL team in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005. Early in that reconnaissance mission, the SEALs accidentally stumbled upon three goat herders. Those goat herders apparently reported the presence of the SEALs to the Taliban.

Murphy’s team assumed a defensive position on a mountain, but an approximate 80 to 100 Taliban fighters soon found them and attacked. A tremendous firefight ensued. Our SEALs kept taking out the enemy—by the dozens—but still reinforcements just kept coming.

The SEALs fell back repeatedly, sliding and falling down the mountain. They were beat up and bruised. Bones were broken. Three of the four, including Murphy, had been shot. Yet they kept fighting.

“It was like the world was blowing up around us,” one SEAL, Marcus Luttrell, described, “with the flying rock splinters, some of them pretty large, clattering off the cliff walls; the ricocheting bullets; the swirling dust cloud enveloping the shrapnel and covering us, choking us, obscuring everything.”

Our SEALs were cornered. By then, one had been killed, but three remained standing. Murphy knew what he had to do. He fished a mobile phone out of his pocket. He walked out into a clearing to get a signal, and he placed a call.

Luttrell was stunned.

“I knew what Mikey had done,” he later wrote. “He’d understood we had only one realistic chance, and that was to call in help. He also knew there was only one place from which he could possibly make that cell phone work: out in the open, away from the cliff walls. Knowing the risk, understanding the danger, in the full knowledge the phone call could cost him his life, Lieutenant Michael Patrick Murphy, son of Maureen, fiancé of the beautiful Heather, walked out into the firestorm.”

Murphy’s call went through. But as he was talking, he was hit in the back. The shock of it caused him to drop the phone. But he picked it back up and finished the call. “Roger that, sir. Thank you,” he was heard to say before he hung up.

Murphy resumed fighting, but he wouldn’t live much longer. “The Protector” had put his life on the line for his friends—and then he’d given that life.

“[H]is grace and upbringing never deserted him,” President George W. Bush would later say as he presented the Medal to Murphy’s family. “Though severely wounded, he said ‘thank you’ before hanging up, and returned to the fight—before losing his life. . . . Our nation is blessed to have volunteers like Michael who risk their lives for our freedom.”

P.S. Yes, there was (only) one survivor: Luttrell. But his story is one for another day.

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If you enjoy these history posts, please know that it is important to LIKE, SHARE & COMMENT. This site’s algorithm will weed these posts out of your newsfeed if you do not interact with them. (I don’t make the rules! Just following them.) 😉

Gentle reminder: History posts are copyright © 2013-2018 by Tara Ross. I appreciate it when you use the Facebook “share” feature instead of cutting/pasting.

Permalink: http://www.taraross.com/…/this-day-in-history-michael-murph…

#TDIH #OTD #AmericanHistory #USHistory #liberty #freedom #ShareTheHistory

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The USS MICHAEL MURPHY, DDG 112, was christened on this date (again, his birthday) on May 7, 2012, by the ship’s sponsor, his mother, Maureen Murphy. The picture above is of the ship as it sails near Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, HI, in 2013. The USS MICHAEL MURPHY is the 62nd ship in the line of Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

May she serve long and proud and may LT Michael Murphy Rest In Peace.

We who remain behind salute you, Sir!

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