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Jesse L. Brown
Jesse L. Brown was born on this date in 1926. He was the first Black aviator in the U.S. Navy.
Brown was born in Hattiesburg, MS, educated in the public schools of Hattiesburg, and then went to Ohio State University. He enlisted in the U.S. Naval Reserve in 1946. His enlistment was terminated a year later, after which he accepted an appointment as a midshipman in the U.S. Navy. Midshipman Brown joined Fighter Squadron 32 in 1949 and was commissioned as an Ensign on April 15th. Ensign Brown's squadron joined Fast Carrier Task Force 77 in Korea in October 1950.
As a pilot of Fighter Squadron 32, Ensign Brown became a section leader and received the Air Medal for daring attacks against Japan at Wonsan, Chongjin, Songjin, and Sinanju. In addition, during the Korean War, he led his section in the heart of hostile anti-aircraft fire, helping inflict heavy losses on the enemy. On December 4, 1950, during close air support to the Marines fighting near Chosin Reservoir, his plane was struck by enemy fire and crashed, and Brown died.
The USS JESSE L. BROWN (FFT-1089) was named in honor of Ensign Jesse Leroy Brown, U.S. Naval Reserve, the first Black naval officer to lose his life in combat during the Korean War.