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February 17

 

February 17, 1973

First U.S. Navy Ship Named for an African-American

In 1948, Ensign Jesse L. Brown became the first black man designated as an American Naval aviator. He flew combat missions in Korea and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. On Dec. 4, 1950, he perished when his plane was shot down by enemy fire over the Chosin Reservoir. He was 24 years old.

On this date in 1973, Ensign Brown was further honored when the Navy commissioned the USS Jesse L. Brown, a destroyer escort ship. It was the first American Naval ship ever to be named for an African-American. The Jesse L. Brown remained in U.S. Navy service until 1994, when it was decommissioned and transferred to the Egyptian navy.

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