BATH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) - A crowd of Navy brass, Bath iron Works officials and old friends all came together in Bath today to honor one of America's real heroes, whose name will soon be on a Bath-built destroyer.
The celebration at the Maine Maritime Museum was to honor retired Navy Captain Thomas Hudner. He was a pilot in the Korean War, and the first Naval Aviator to earn the Medal of Honor in that war.
Hudner's wingman was forced to crash land his plane during a fight, and Hudner then deliberately crashed his own plane nearby, to try to rescue the other man. Now a new destroyer to be launched at Bath in 2016 will be named in his honor.
The Navy says its rare for a ship to be named for a living person, much less a living Medal of Honor recipient. Hudner says it's humbling. Hudner also praised his wingman, Ensign Jesse Brown, the pilot who died that day in Korea, saying he was idolized by most of the other members of their squadron. Hudner also said he doesn't feel comfortable being called a hero.
The destroyer that will bear the name U.S.S. Hudner hasn't been built yet, and is scheduled to be christened in 2016. Prior to today's ceremony, Hudner visited BIW and met with some of the designers and others who will build the new ship.