CONCORD (CBS) — A 92-year-old Korean War hero and Medal of Honor recipient got a birthday surprise from the U.S. Navy Wednesday.
Fifty Navy Chief Petty Officers arrived in Concord around noon Wednesday after travelling from the USS Constitution in Charlestown to honor Captain Thomas Hudner.
The officers marched down Allen Farm Lane in Concord, where Captain Hudner lives, and met the veteran outside of his home.
There, they sang the Navy Hymn and Happy Birthday as members of his family looked on.
“He’s a national treasure, one that should be recognized,” one of the officers told WBZ-TV.
During the Korean War, in 1950, Captain Hudner’s wingman, Jesse Brown–the Navy’s first black carrier pilot–was shot down during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir. Hudner intentionally crashed his own plane to try to save his friend, an action that led to his being awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor.
“He gave his life for an African-American, for another sailor,” CPO Select Tennay Davis said. “It’s amazing and I’m honored to have met him, extremely honored.”
The officers also presented him with a piece of the USS Constitution.
The visit was arranged by the group Massachusetts Fallen Heroes.
Hudner stood up from his seat in the front yard and saluted the officers, and shook hands with each of the officers–a humble hero looking at the face of the new Navy.
His son, Thomas Hudner III, said his father is overwhelmed by the show of support.
“It’s so meaningful,” he said. “He would be the last person to ask for something like this, or any other similar type of recognition. It’s completely humbling and moving, and a huge honor that people would make this effort to come out to greet him like this.”
The Navy will dedicate a new missile destroyer named after Captain Hudner in 2018.
WBZ NewsRadio 1030’s Kim Tunnicliffe reports