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Jesse L. Brown was the first African American aviator in the U.S. Navy, a recipient of the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the first African American naval officer killed in the Korean War. Brown's successes in the segregated and desegregated U.S. military were memorialized in several books. The frigate USS Jesse L. Brown (FF-1089) was named in his honor.

Birth name Jesse LeRoy Brown
Born 13 October 1926
Hattiesburg, Mississippi, U.S.
Died 4 December 1950 (aged 24)
Chosin Reservoir, North Korea

Chosin Reservoir, North Korea

Allegiance Flag of the United States 1912 1959 United States of America
Service/branch Infantry battalion flag of the United States Navy United States Navy
Years of service 1946–1950
Rank US Navy O1 infobox.svg Ensign
Service number 504477
Unit Fighter Squadron 32
Battles/wars Korean War
  • Battle of Chosin Reservoir 
  • Distinguished Flying Cross
  • Purple Heart
pdfJesse Leroy Brown


Born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi, to an impoverished family, Brown was avidly interested in aircraft from a young age. He graduated as salutatorian of his high school, notwithstanding its racial segregation, and was later awarded a degree from Ohio State University. Brown enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1946, becoming a midshipman. Brown earned his pilot wings on 21 October 1948 amid a flurry of press coverage; in January 1949 he was assigned to Fighter Squadron 32 aboard the aircraft carrier USS Leyte.