Saturday, December 16, 2023


Devotion tells the story of the first US Navy black pilot, Jesse Leroy Brown, and his wingman and pal Thomas Hudner. I first learned about their extraordinary comradeship in David Sears' excellent Such Men As These - The story of the Navy pilots who flew the deadly skies over Korea. Recommended reading, btw.

In 1950, Brown and Hudner flew missions in obsolete F4U Corsairs over Korea from USS Leyte, which was part of Task Force 77. On the 4th of December, during or after a mission to support USMC troops near the infamous Chosin Reservoir, Browns Corsair suffered either a ruptured fuel or oil line, possibly as a result of Chinese small arms fire, and not long after he was forced to crash-land...

The crash deformed Browns crate in such a way that he got stuck in his cockpit, and possibly wounded too, so that he was unable to get out of the wreckage without aid. Hudner, observing the crash site and noticing a fire starting in the engine, feared that his friend would die in the flames and did the unthinkable: he deliberately crashed his F4U also, knowing full well that he wouldn't be able to take off again. He rushed over to where Browns mount had come to a standstill, and tried to get his friend out of the wreck. Alas, it was not to be. Even after a rescue helicopter had landed and its crew assisted, it proved impossible to free Brown, whose condition worsened by the minute. In the gathering dark and with the trapped Corsair pilot now unconscious, the helicopter was forced to leave, with Hudner on board. Some days later and with Brown now for certain dead, his squadron mates returned to give him a Viking funeral - bombing the stricken plane with its deceased pilot inside with napalm, so as to prevent North Korean or Chinese troops from defaming the body.

A welcome addition to an altogether meagre score of movies about an almost forgotten war. Directed by J.D. Dillard and starring Jonathan Majors as Jesse Brown and Glen Powell as Tom Hudner.