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Navy commissions destroyer named after Medal of Honor recipient from Korean War

By CHRISTIAN LOPEZ | STARS AND STRIPES Published: December 1, 2018

Georgea Hudner, the widow of retired Navy Capt. Thomas Hudner Jr., recently gave the order that brought to life the Navy’s newest guided-missile destroyer during a commissioning ceremony at Flynn Cruiseport in Boston.

The Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Thomas Hudner, commissioned Dec. 1, honors the naval aviator from Massachusetts who earned the Medal of Honor during the Korean War.

President Harry S. Truman awarded Hudner the medal for crash-landing his plane in an attempt to save the life of his squadron mate, Ensign Jesse Brown, during the Battle of the Chosin Reservoir, a Navy statement said. Brown, who did not survive the incident, was the Navy’s first black aviator.

Hudner’s son, Thomas Hudner III, spoke at the ceremony and reflected on his father’s life and legacy.

“While many would say that my father’s actions were an extraordinary act, my father never thought of himself or that action as extraordinary,” he said according to the Navy statement.“To the contrary, when he was asked through the years why he did what he did, he responded simply that it was the right thing to do and if he hadn’t acted, someone else would have.”

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker gave the principal address during the ceremony that was attended by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer, Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. William Moran, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh and others.

“Simply put, life was never about Tom Hudner,” Baker said, according to the statement. “The only way a person would know anything about what took place on that mountaintop during the Korean War would have been to hear from someone else or to have read about it because he never talked about that day.”

The ship’s sponsors, Georgea Hudner and Barbara Miller, a former co-chair of Flag Officer Spouse Training, together gave the traditional order that signals the crew to embark and begin the Hudner’s service with the Navy: “Man this ship and bring her to life.”

The ship’s construction began in fall 2015 at the General Dynamics Bath Iron Works in Maine. It was christened on April 1, 2017, at the Bath shipyard, where it launched 22 days later.

The Hudner will be homeported at Mayport, Fla.

“It is my fervent hope that this ship is imbued with the humility, selflessness, patriotism, the commitment to one another, the kindness and decency that transcends our differences that made Tom so special,” Baker said, according to the statement..

lopez.christian@stripes.com
Twitter: @Clopez_Stripes

Korean War veteran Thomas Hudner looks on during the christening ceremony for the future USS Thomas Hudner, a U.S. Navy destroyer named in his honor, at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine, on April 1, 2017.
MARY SCHWALM/AP

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