There’s little doubt that the Korean War has earned its “Forgotten War” moniker. Remedying that is what author Aaron Makos set out to do when he wrote “Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice.”

Now, Makos’ heartrending account of the early-1950s conflict, one seen through the lens of Navy aviators Lt. Tom Hudner and Ensign Jesse Brown, the first Black man to complete the Navy’s flight training program, is coming to the big screen.

Set to premier on Nov. 23, the film — directed by J.D. Dillard (”Utopia”, “The Outsider”) and starring Glen Powell (”Top Gun: Maverick”, “Hidden Figures”) and Jonathan Majors (”Hostiles”, “Da 5 Bloods”) — comes on the heels of the release of “Top Gun: Maverick,” another movie wonder that appears to be cementing the sea service’s position as cinematic dogfighting king.

In the real life story, the unlikely relationship between Hudner and Brown brought together a white, would-be Harvard student, who gave up academic pursuits to go to the Naval Academy, and the Black son of a sharecropper, who would find his way to Ohio State before joining the Navy.

On Dec. 4, 1950, while flying with his squadron to the Chosin Reservoir, Brown’s F4U Corsair went down. When Brown did not emerge from the cockpit, Hudner chose to intentionally crash-land his aircraft next to the wreckage, risking his life and a court-martial, according to Navy records.

Brown was bleeding, and remained trapped by a damaged instrument panel that Hudner could not pry loose. After receiving a distress call, Marine 1st Lt. Charlie Ward arrived in a rescue helicopter. He and Hudner were ultimately forced to leave a Brown behind, but not before Brown’s dying wish — for Hudner to tell his wife Daisy how much he loved her.

Brown was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, and the Purple Heart, and in 1973, the Navy launched the USS Jesse L. Brown (DE-1089). Hudner and Daisy attended the ceremony together.

Hudner later received the Medal of Honor for “exceptionally valiant action and selfless devotion to a shipmate.”

In 2017, the Navy launched the Arleigh-Burke class destroyer USS Thomas Hudner (DDG-116).

Sarah Sicard is a Senior Editor with Military Times. She previously served as the Digitial Editor of Military Times and the Army Times Editor. Other work can be found at National Defense Magazine, Task & Purpose, and Defense News.

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