NAS Meridian dedicates hangar to Ensign Jesse L. Brown, first African-American naval officer to die in combat in Korean War

Published: May. 13, 2022 at 3:43 PM CDT
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MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Naval Air Station Meridian dedicated the hangar onboard base in honor of Ensign Jesse L. Brown. Brown was the first African-American naval aviator and the first African-American naval officer to die in combat in the Korean War on December 4, 1950.

His medals include the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal, and the Purple Heart.

Brown was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi in 1926. He joined the Naval Reserves at 19 and received his Wings of Gold in October 1948.

One of the guest speakers included Capt. Donnie Cochran. Capt. Cochran became the first African-American commanding officer of the Blue Angels in 1994.

“I was very, very fortunate to have had a wonderful career, and a lot of that career as I shared during my talk today is similar to Ensign Jesse Brown. So, from my perspective, this is all about not only myself but it’s for that future generation—laying that foundation for the future generation,” said Cochran.

Brown’s family flew in from all over the country for the dedication ceremony. His only daughter, Pamela Brown Knight, was also a guest speaker.

“It’s an honor and it continues to amaze me how much people are inspired by my father. I know that I am and my children and my grandchildren are, but to see others outside that are truly inspired and honor him, that’s just something that’s near and dear to my heart,” said Knight.

NAS Meridian provides support and services to 20 tenant commands, training nearly 100 Navy, Marine Corps and foreign aviators, and 1,800 enlisted A-School students each year.

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