Gen. Joe Dunford
on the life and legacy of Capt. Thomas J. Hudner, Jr.
Raymond L. Flynn Black Falcon Cruise Terminal
"Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joe Dunford delivered remarks at the U.S. Navy’s commissioning of its newest Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer: USS Thomas Hudner (DDG 116), Dec. 1, 2018. This is the first warship named for Capt. Thomas J. Hudner, Jr., who earned the Medal of Honor for his actions while trying to save the life of his wingman, Ensign Jesse L. Brown, during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in the Korean War."
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“Ladies and gentlemen, it’s truly an honor to be here this morning. And I’m particularly humbled to be here with our Medal of Honor recipients, Governor Baker, the mayor [Marty Walsh], Congressman Lynch, distinguished leaders from Massachusetts, and most importantly the Hudner and the Brown families.
I joined Secretary Spencer, Admiral Moran, and the other leaders onstage in representing your men and women in uniform. As we conduct this ceremony, 275,000 of your soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines are operating around the world in 177 different countries. And as you know, many of them are in harm’s way. I’d ask you to keep them in your thoughts and prayers, as well as the families of those we lost last weekend.
I’m also here as the son of a Marine who was on the ground fighting at the Chosin Reservoir. On 4 December 1950, Ensign Brown and Lieutenant Hudner were supporting my father and his fellow Marines.
And finally, I’m here as someone who had the privilege of spending time with Captain Hudner at events over the course of 30 years. I first met him in the late 1980s and I can clearly remember the encounter. Someone pointed out Captain Hudner to me and they gave me his background. And I immediately went over and waited in line, hoping just to shake the hand of a true American hero. And given the line, I expected just to have a quick greeting and then to move on. But as we shook hands, Captain Hudner looked me in the eyes, he asked me about my assignment, he asked me about my Marines and sailors. He took the time to be engaged. In that initial engagement I was struck by Captain Thomas Hudner’s courtesy and his humility. And in later engagements, I’d gain an appreciation for his commitment to service and his character.
I’d also learn how he viewed his Medal of Honor. In his own words, he viewed the medal less as an honorific than as an obligation – an obligation to use the platform it brought him to bring attention to all those who served and sacrificed.
So I have a brief and a simple message today, and it’s for the captain and the crew. We’ve named this ship the Hudner in honor of Captain Thomas Hudner’s actions on 4 December 1950, and I know you’ll ensure that future generations of young sailors are inspired by his courage. But don’t let Captain Hudner’s legacy be reduced to just one incident, no matter how heroic. This ship should sustain the memory of Captain Hudner’s three decades of naval service and his continued public service after taking off the uniform. This ship should honor the memory of a humble servant leader, a loving family man, and a man of character. This ship should sustain the memory of a life well-led.
Thank you. Semper Fidelis. And to the crew of the USS Thomas Hudner, fair winds and following seas.”
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