“Don’t’ worry, we’ll be back for you.”
That's what U.S. Navy pilot Thomas Hudner told his wingman Ensign Jesse Brown after he got shot down in North Korea.
Hudner crash-landed his Corsair to save his friend, but wasn’t able to pull him from the burning wreckage. Now 65 years later, with a Medal of Honor around his neck, Captain Hudner has a lifelong quest to recover the remains of his trusted wingman.
Hudner was a wealthy white man from Massachusetts, and Brown a poor man from a farm in Mississippi, who happened to be the US Navy’s first black combat pilot.
Race didn’t matter. Background didn’t matter. Religion didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was their friendship. They trusted each other completely.
In the military, you never leave your wingman behind. As a fighter pilot who’s flown in combat, I can truly relate to this amazing story. And any soldier who ever felt the fear of battle can as well.
Captain Hudner’s actions symbolized loyalty, courage, and service - powerful words that have special meaning to those who have served in uniform.
So, what do those words mean to you? How do they show up in your life?
I love Veterans Day because it reminds us how fortunate we are to be living in this amazing free country. It’s a time to be thankful and reflect on those who dug the well of our freedom, but also to think about how we can better serve each other – like Hudner did for Brown.
- Who do you know that’s been “left behind” who can really use your wing of support?
- Who in your life may be trapped in the dungeon of despair that you can pull out?
- What can you do to show appreciation for someone who’s gone above and beyond?
- How can you better serve your community or family?
- What veteran charity can you support?
As we honor our veterans, particularly during this holiday, please take some action to make a difference. Sacrifice. Give your wings away. Make their service mean something.
You don’t need to wear a uniform to serve.