This Veteran's Day, join BIN as we celebrate Jesse Brown and all those who made history in America’s forgotten war.
Jesse Brown is the first Black aviator in Navy history, and his story will be told in the upcoming film Devotion — an aerial war epic based on the bestselling book of the same name, written by Adam Makos.
The film tells the inspirational true story of two elite US Navy fighter pilots — Brown (played by Jonathan Majors) and his fellow fighter pilot and friend, Tom Hudner (played by Glen Powell) — who helped "turn the tide in the most brutal battle in the Korean War," as noted in the film's synopsis. "Their heroic sacrifices and enduring friendship would ultimately make them the Navy’s most celebrated wingmen."
“Jesse is an American hero,” Majors shared in a press release. “The American dream is that you can pull yourself up from your bootstraps — but he didn’t just do that. He pulled himself up from his bootstraps and put himself in the sky. And he did it with a heart as big as the ocean, with devotion for his family, for his country, and for his own self-worth. He aggressively went after things that seemed impossible. That’s the legacy of Jesse Brown.”
Brown's legacy is intertwined with that of Hudner's. Their dedication to the armed forces and sacrifice for this country, as Powell explained, is "one of the most heroic and important stories in naval history."
“[Brown and Hudner] aren’t necessarily best friends – they’re complete opposites. But they are soul mates. They are two sides of the same coin that fate has brought together,” Majors added. “These two men discover things about themselves and each other in an attempt to fulfill their own personal legacies, their own personal destinies. Their devotion to each other is what ultimately unlocks that door.”
“Devotion is a word that is built up of other words – promise, love, sacrifice, allegiance, choice,” he continued. “And these two men, Jesse Brown and Tom Hudner, will come to understand what that word means in the course of this film. Jesse aggressively went after things that seemed impossible. He had ambition, and hope, and vision. He is the vanguard for change and diversity within the ranks of naval aviation in the United States.”
Both Brown and Hudner's families were involved in the development process of Devotion. Tom Hudner III, son of the legendary aviator, shared in a statement, “It has been an incredible experience to see this film come to fruition, and my family and I are so grateful to the filmmakers, cast, and crew who brought tremendous skill, dedication, and integrity to the project."
He added, "Glen’s performance as Tom Hudner is excellent, and he captures the essence of my father’s driven yet humble nature. I feel fortunate that this is the team that came together to make this film. [...] He and Jesse Brown each exemplified honor and selfless service, and I believe that their story is relevant and inspiring for all of us.”
Brown’s granddaughter, Jessica Knight Henry, was also involved with the project, which she called a tribute to one of America's relatively unknown heroes. "Like so many Black soldiers before and after him, he sacrificed everything for a country that often failed to love him the way he loved it," she said. "Our family is so incredibly proud to share Jesse’s story with the world, and we are so excited that so many will have the opportunity to learn who he is and what he meant to his family, his squadmates, and his nation.”
Devotion takes flight exclusively in movie theaters on November 23.