Much of the commissioning ceremony for the USS Thomas Hudner, held in Boston, paid tribute to the late Thomas Hudner. He was a Fall River native and longtime Concord resident who was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Harry Truman for crash-landing his plane to try to save the life of Ensign Jesse Brown, who was trapped behind enemy lines during the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in December 1950.
Brown was shot down and trapped in his burning plane. Hudner intentionally crash-landed in freezing temperatures, packed the fuselage with snow using his bare hands to keep the flames away from Brown, and tried unsuccessfully to pull his squadron-mate free.
U.S. Navy Cmdr. Brett Litchfield said at Saturday's ceremony that the destroyer's crew will strive to exemplify Hudner's selfless devotion to his shipmate.
"In that same spirit, this ship will sail the oceans, often alone. It will stand vigilant against those who would threaten democracy and freedom," he told the crowd. "This crew is honored to serve on a ship that bears his name."
Hudner died last November at age 93. However, he lived to personally attend the April 2017 christening ceremony at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine for the massive Arleigh Burke-class destroyer that bears his name.
On Saturday, Hudner's widow Georgea and Barbara Miller, wife of retired Vice Adm. Michael Miller, had the honors of ordering the crew to "man our ship and bring her to life." Within seconds, the crew members rushed aboard, taking their positions along the decks of the ship as the U.S. Navy's march song "Anchors Aweigh" was performed.
The destroyer will be homeported at Naval Station Mayport, Florida. The Navy said the USS Thomas Hudner is capable of engaging in air, surface and subsurface battles simultaneously. It also has integrated air and missile defense capabilities.