TEWKSBURY—Republicans met Monday at the Veterans of Foreign Wars building to celebrate the accomplishments of Captain Tom Hudner, 88, and hear his endorsement of Sen. Scott Brown who made the event a campaign stop. Hudner has appeared in a campaign commercial with Brown recently.
Typical of many distinguished veterans and heroes, Captain Tom Hudner, almost 88, is hushed, humble, and wise.
He grew up in Fall River, he tells the Crier, and he “went to the Naval Academy in 1943. Graduated after WWII was over.”
His crew served in the Mediterranean when the Korean War broke out, he says, and they were immediately ordered to the Korean Area to support troops in the Chosin Reservoir. While there, his wingman, Jesse L. Brown, was shot down. He landed in the mountainous area of North Korea, he says.
“Even though he survived that crash, he didn’t get out of the airplane,” said Hudner
What happened next was harrowing.
“So, I made a crash landing near his, to pull him out,” he says. “We had called for a rescue helicopter to help that part of his airplane. When he arrived, both he and I were unable to get the pilot out of the cockpit.”
There was two feet of snow on the ground.
“The temperature was just a little above zero,” he says. “It went as low as thirty degrees below zero.”
But they couldn’t get him out. The rescue pilot took Hudner to safety.
Brown didn’t make it. He “perished from the cold and injuries.”
“And I was returned to my ship,” he says. “We spent another month and a half out there in that area before we were called to come back to the bases in Rhode Island.”
“When I came back to the States, I was told I was going to get the [Congressional] Medal of Honor,” he adds.
Hudner joined Senator Scott Brown at the Tewksbury VFW on Monday for a well-attended campaign event sponsored by Veterans for Brown.
Hudner says that he is supporting Senator Brown because of all he does for Veterans.
And this was highlighted during the afternoon.
Some initiatives Brown supported include the Stolen Valor Act, which criminalizes the misrepresentation of military service, the Helping Our Homeless Veterans Act, and the Hire a Hero Act, which aids veterans seeking employment by offering tax credits to businesses.
He knows the sacrifice it takes.
After all, Brown is a Colonel in the Army National Guard.
"From higher rates of unemployment to long delays receiving the benefits they are owed, our state's veterans face a diverse array of challenges," said Senator Brown. "I am deeply proud to serve on the Senate Veterans' Affairs Committee and to have the endorsement of a real American hero like Captain Hudner.”
Those in attendance enjoyed the afternoon.
“This was a most respectful gathering,” says Selectman Doug Sears, who is a candidate for State Representative. “Scott Brown spoke in a reverential tone about the heroism of Capt. Hudner and other veterans.”
Representative Paul Adams, who is currently running for State Senate, says that he and Senator Brown have much in common.
“Scott Brown and I have a very similar goal—that we support the needs of veterans and their families,” he says. “The veterans have always been one of my top priorities.”
The high unemployment levels, he says, are “unacceptable.”
Others in attendance included Don Ordway, who is Chairman of the Tewksbury Republican Party, Representative Jim Lyons, Jon Golnik, a candidate for the House of Representatives, Sandi Martinez, a candidate for the State Senate, and Gail Huff, Senator Brown’s wife.
Vinnie Oliva, the commander of the Tewksbury VFW, though the turnout for the afternoon was “good.”
“I thought things went very well. No problems,” he says.
Hudner, who is from Concord, will have an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer DDG-116 USS Thomas Hudner named for him. It is being constructed at Bath Iron Works in Maine. Senator Brown, who will attend the Republican National Convention this week, is running for re-election against Harvard Professor Elizabeth Warren.