Whistling up an Essex class carrier and matching Corsairs

Ensign Jesse L. Brown, USN. In the cockpit of an F4U-4 Corsair fighter, circa 1950. He was the first African-American to be trained by the Navy as a Naval Aviator, and as such, he became the first African-American Naval Aviator to see combat. Brown flew with Fighter Squadron 32 (VF-32) from USS Leyte (CV-32). Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. USN 1146845.

This week is the opening of the J. D. Dillard/Erik Messerschmidt Sony Pictures war biopic Devotion, focusing on the too-short life of Ens. Jesse Leroy Brown and his “Fighting Swordsmen” wingman, Lt. (j.g) Thomas J. Hudner Jr., who flew side-by-side at the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War.

The obligatory trailer:

And, from the Navy, Dillard and Glen Powell (who portrays Hudner) talk about the importance of maintaining historical accuracy while filming, which pulled in vintage Corsairs and F8F Bearcats from around the globe and the construction of a 1:1 scale CV-32 deck/island in a field in Statesboro, Georgia.

Nice they aren’t totally CGI!

As Brown was a Hattiesburg native Mississippian, his deeds have long been remembered at the Mississippi Military History Museum at Camp Shelby and the African American Military History Museum in Hattiesburg. The latter has a life-sized Brown standing on the deck of the USS Leyte.

It is great that this story is finally getting some bigger exposure.

In a deeper dive into the story overall, USNI host Eric Mills sits down with Thomas Hudner III, son of the real-life MOH recipient depicted in Devotion.

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