October 13, 1926 Jesse LeRoy Brown, the first African American naval aviator in the United States Navy, was born in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Brown enlisted in the Naval Reserve in 1946. After attending Navy pre-flight school and flight training, he was designated a naval aviator in October, 1948. He received his commission as ensign in April, 1949.
During the Korean War, on December 4, 1950 Brown’s plane was hit by enemy fire and crashed and Brown died in the aircraft. Brown was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his Korean War combat service and the USS Jesse L. Brown was named in his honor. Also, the County Tax Services Building in Hattiesburg is named in his honor.