Flying 1,000 feet above the icy mountains of Korea, the Corsair’s engine cut out—the result of a lucky shot from a Communist gunner below. Rapidly losing altitude, the pilot, Ensign Jesse Brown, couldn’t bail out or clear the mountain ahead. He had no choice but to attempt a wheels-up, dead-stick landing. The deep snow cushioned the landing a bit, but the terrain beneath it was rugged, and the fighter came to a jarring stop, badly damaged with smoke pouring from its shattered engine.
Flying above, his wingman, Lieutenant (junior grade) Thomas Hudner, was relieved to see that Brown was alive, waving from the open cockpit, but was alarmed when it became apparent that Brown could not escape from the burning aircraft.