Guard Wing Supports Film Production of First Black Naval Airman Korean War MOH Receiver Air National Guard Article Display


ARLINGTON, Va. – “Devotion” chronicles the heroic efforts of Navy Captain Thomas Hudner Jr., who intentionally crash-landed his own plane to rescue downed Naval Airman Ensign Jesse Brown during the Korean War.


Tragically, Brown — the first African American to complete Navy flight training — did not survive. Hudner’s bravery earned him the US military’s highest award for bravery – the Medal of Honor – for this attempt.


The Georgia Air National Guard’s 165th Airlift Wing, which assisted in the production of the film March 12-15 and March 27-29, 2021, helped transform this story into cinematic magic.


“Shooting could have been accomplished without military assistance, but the contributions of the 165th Airlift Squadron allowed the Department of Defense to be part of the coordination process and ensure an accurate portrayal of the events depicted,” said Christine Thompson. a National Guard Bureau entertainment liaison.


Military officials authorized the production team to outfit all locations with the equipment, props and wardrobe one would expect from a war film set more than 70 years ago. Officials also inspected, cleared, and approved civilian aircraft seen in the film to land at the wing’s home station, Savannah Air National Guard Base, and use a hangar during filming.


In addition to supporting logistical requirements, members of the Georgia Air Guard provided escorted access for approximately 250 production personnel.


“The US military has supported film production since 1927 and even worked on the first film ever to win an Oscar for best picture, ‘Wings,'” said Alán Ortiz of the DOD Entertainment Media Office. “We are especially proud of the support of the National Guard and Navy for this film, who helped bring this incredible, true story to the big screen for Americans to learn from and be inspired by.”


In addition to depicting Hudner’s efforts to save his wingman, the film depicts some of the adversity Brown had to overcome.


“The contributions of black military personnel are central to the entire history of the United States, dating back to the Revolutionary War. However, leadership opportunities for black service members have been sparse,” said Chief Master Sgt. Maurice L. Williams, Air National Guard command chief. “The armed forces did not fully integrate people of color until after World War II.”


To thank the National Guard for supporting the production, Air Force Senior Enlisted Advisor Tony Whitehead, the SEA to the Chief of the National Guard Bureau, attended a screening of the film on November 17.


“This was no easy feat for the Georgia National Guard, and I am proud that our Guardsmen helped celebrate the bravery and heroism portrayed in the film,” said Whitehead.



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