UPDATED: Korean War Hero Endorses Scott Brown At Tewksbury VFW
Retired Navy Capt. Thomas J. Hudner is the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient from the Korean War.
If you're locked in a tight re-election campaign, the endorsement of a genuine American hero can't hurt.
U.S. Senator Scott Brown was in Tewksbury on Monday for a campaign stop at the Tewksbury VFW. In addition to rallying support for Brown, local veterans also had the opportunity to honor retired Navy Capt. Thomas J. Hudner, the oldest living Medal of Honor recipient from the Korean War.
Hudner, 87, publicly endorsed Brown in his bid for reelection, just as he had when Brown was first elected to the Senate in 2010.
"I'm very proud of my time in the Navy and I believe in the need for a strong defense," said Hudner, who grew up in Fall River and has lived in Concord for more than 35 years. "Thank goodness for Scott Brown and what he's done down in Washington. He's representing us with the knowledge of how important it is to maintain military strength."
Hudner graduated from Phillips Academy in Andover and the U.S. Naval Academy, where his classmates (Class of 1946) included future U.S. President Jimmy Carter, future Vice Admiral James Stockdale and future Admiral and CIA Director Stansfield Turner.
Hudner's heroic actions as a Navy aviator in Korea have become the stuff of legend.
While flying a on patrol during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir on Dec. 4, 1950, Hudner's wingman, Airman Jesse Brown, was shot down by ground fire from Chinese troops. Hudner intentionally crash landed his plane in freezing conditions on a snow covered mountain in order to try to save Brown's life.
Unfortunately, Brown was trapped in his aircraft and Hudner, who had been injured in the crash, was unable to free him and was forced to evacuate the area. Brown, the first African-American aviator in the Navy, died from his injuries. Hudner's bravery and selflessness in the rescue attempt earned him the Medal of Honor.
Hudner went on to complete a successful 25-year career in the Navy, which included a tour of duty on the USS Kitty Hawk during the Vietnam War.
Hudner received a rare honor earlier this year when an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer was christened as the USS Thomas Hudner.
Sen. Brown, a colonel in the National Guard, said the endorsement of an American hero was particularly meaningful to him.
"It's an honor to get his endorsement, both (in 2010) and now," said Brown, who appeared at the event with his wife, former Boston TV news reporter Gail Huff.
During his speech to the local veterans, Brown re-iterated his commitment to maintaining a strong national defense. He said he supported the half-trillion dollar cuts that had been made to the defense budget last year, citing the need to cut waste and clean up procurement issues. However, he said he couldn't support an additional half-trillion dollars in cuts proposed by the Obama Administration.
Brown, who is locked in a tight race with Democratic challenger Elizabeth Warren, also spent time touting his bi-partisan credentials. He said he only voted with the GOP 54 percent of the time, making him the second most bi-partisan senator.
"That's what it means to be an independent senator," said Brown. "You sent me down there to not be like the others."