Jesse LeRoy Brown was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, on Oct. 13, 1926. He enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1946 and was appointed a Midshipman, U.S. Navy, the following year.
Brown became the first African-American to be trained by the Navy as an aviator. After attending pre-flight school and flight training, he was designated a Naval Aviator in October 1948. Midshipman Brown was then assigned to Fighter Squadron 32. He received his commission as Ensign in April 1949.
During the Korean War, Brown also became the first African-American Naval Aviator to see combat when his squadron operated from USS Leyte (CV-32), flying F4U-4 Corsair fighters in support of United Nations forces.
On Dec. 4, 1950, while on a close air support mission near the Chosin Reservoir, Ensign Brown's plane was hit by enemy fire and crashed. Despite heroic efforts by other aviators, he could not be rescued and died in his aircraft. Ensign Jesse L. Brown was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his Korean War combat service.
USS Jesse L. Brown (DE-1089) was named in honor of Ensign Jesse LeRoy Brown.
To learn more about U.S. Navy history, please go to the Naval History and Heritage Command website: www.history.navy.mil/.