"Jesse, something's wrong," one of the men in his squadron radioed him. "You're bleeding fuel."
It was the beginning of the Korean War, but Brown was already battle-tested. For years, his own people had tried to destroy him. Now he was in another conflict, part of a six-man squadron dispatched to defend a U.S. Marine division encircled by 100,000 Chinese troops at the Chosin Reservoir. The Marines appeared so doomed that newspapers back home dubbed them the "Lost Legion."
Brown had been flying low over a remote hillside looking for targets when ground fire ruptured his fuel line. He scanned the icy slopes for a place to crash land because he was too low to bail out.
"Losing power," Brown calmly radioed to his squadron. "My engine is seizing up."
He spotted a small mountain clearing and took his plane in. The impact of the landing raised a cloud of snow and crumpled his Corsair. He tried to climb out of the cockpit but he was pinned inside — and flames were starting to rise from the fuselage.
The sun was setting, and swarms of Chinese troops were likely headed his way. That's when his wingman, Capt. Tom Hudner, who watched the scene unfold from above, decided to do something risky: He was going to crash land into the same mountain clearing to rescue Brown.
"I'm going in," he said over the radio as his plane dived toward Brown's smoking Corsair.