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New EAA Museum Exhibit Honors Medal of Honor Recipient With Display of His Corsair

April 28, 2022 – A new exhibit that opened April 23 in the EAA Aviation Museum’s Eagle Hangar honors the late Thomas Hudner, a Korean War naval aviator, with a Corsair aircraft that replaced the one Hudner used in his heroic actions that earned him the Medal of Honor.

The airplane has been in the EAA collection for 40 years and was fully restored in 1994 to represent one flown by World War II ace Kenneth Walsh. Recent research into the aircraft logbooks, however, showed the Corsair was a replacement for the Corsair that Hudner crash-landed in Korea in 1950 in an attempt to save fellow pilot Jesse Brown, the U.S. Navy’s first Black naval aviator. Hudner logged many hours and multiple carrier landings in the EAA aircraft, which after its Navy service was owned by several individuals before it was donated to EAA in 1982.

“When we discovered that our Corsair had a direct connection to a Medal of Honor recipient, it was an easy decision to restore the airplane to its Korean War markings to honor him,” said Ron Connolly, EAA Aviation Museum director. “This new exhibit also honors Jesse Brown as a naval aviator and the bond he forged with his squadron mates during that time.”

Members of the Hudner and Brown families were at the museum as part of the formal dedication of the display, including Thomas Hudner III, son of Thomas Hudner, and Jamal Knight, grandson of Jesse Brown. They also loaned personal memorabilia that adds to the authenticity of the exhibit.

The Korean War incident that memorialized Hudner and Brown is the subject of a book and a soon-to-be-released major motion picture, both titled Devotion. The film stars Screen Actors Guild award winner Glen Powell, as well as Jonathan Majors, Serinda Swan, and Joe Jonas. The movie is scheduled to be released later this year, and EAA has been in regular contact with the production team in an advisory role.

The gull-winged Chance-Vought F4U-4 Corsair was one of the finest fighter-bomber aircraft produced during World War II. It was a formidable weapon from the closing months of WWII through the Korean War. In Korea, the Corsair was outclassed as a fighter (though it shot down at least one Chinese MiG-15 jet fighter), and it was used mostly as a ground-attack fighter/bomber. Its speed and ruggedness, and its huge bomb load capacity (rivaled only by late-model P-47s) made it very effective in the ground-attack role.

Corsairs were flown by the U.S. Navy and Marines, the British Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm, the Royal New Zealand Air Force, and the French Aéronavale.

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