Devotion: A Korean War epic directed by JD Dillard

Jessica Evans
Feb 23, 2023 9:14 AM PST
3 minute read

J.D. Lillard (left) directed the film ‘Devotion’ about Lt. Tom Hudner and Ensign Jesse Brown.


“Devotion” is a Korean War film directed by JD Dillard that honors the experiences of Lt. Tom Hudner and Ensign…

"Devotion" is a Korean War film directed by JD Dillard that honors the experiences of Lt. Tom Hudner and Ensign Jesse Brown. It's based on the book, "Devotion: An Epic Story of Heroism, Friendship, and Sacrifice," by Adam Makos.

Glen Powell and Jonathan Majors give strong performances as Hudner and Brown. In a documentary produced by the Marines' Memorial Club, both actors discuss what it meant to play these important roles.

When Jesse Brown died, he became the first Black American killed in the Korean War. For his attempts to save Jesse, Tom Hudner received the first Medal of Honor of the Korean War. The movie's plot revolves around Brown's plane crash in North Korea, leaving him stranded and injured on the ground. Hudner, desperate to save his friend, takes it upon himself to fly a dangerous rescue mission.

JD Dillard no stranger to military life

Growing up in a military family, JD Dillard's interest in exploring stories of heroism and sacrifice has been reflected in his work as a director, writer, and producer. Therefore, it was natural for him to be drawn to the incredible true story of Lt. Tom Hudner and Ensign Jesse Brown while making the movie "Devotion."

Dillard saw the story as a powerful tribute to the bravery and sacrifices of these men and wanted to honor their legacy with a film that would bring their experiences to a wider audience.

Actor Jonathan Majors, who plays Jesse Brown, highlights that, "He pulled himself up from his bootstraps and into the sky. That's the legacy of Jesse Majors." Thus, the film pays homage to the remarkable sacrifice of these aviators.

Director J.D. Dillard, Leading Actor Glen Powell, and other select cast and crew from the movie "Devotion" tour the Pentagon in Washington, D.C., Nov. 18, 2022. (DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Alexander Kubitza)

Black American veteran sacrifices

Black American veterans have played a crucial role in shaping the course of American history. From the Revolutionary War to the present day, Black American soldiers have fought bravely, despite facing systemic discrimination and inequality.

During the Korean War, Black aviators made significant contributions to the American military effort, despite facing racism and discrimination. The Tuskegee Airmen continued to fly missions in Korea and were instrumental in providing close air support to ground troops.

The 18th Fighter-Bomber Wing, which included Black pilots, was responsible for flying critical bombing and strafing missions against enemy targets. Additionally, Black support personnel, including mechanics and ground crew, played a vital role in maintaining and repairing the aircraft. The contributions of Black aviators during the Korean War were not only critical to the success of American military operations but also helped pave the way for greater racial integration in the military in the decades that followed.

Recognizing and honoring the service of Black American veterans is not only a matter of historical accuracy but also an important step towards acknowledging and addressing the injustices they have faced. Honoring the sacrifices and contributions of Black American veterans ensures America remembers.

Devotion film poster.

Praise for the film

Critics have praised the film for its powerful emotional impact, its expert storytelling, and impressive technical achievements. Devotion is a moving tribute to the bravery and sacrifice of those who serve. It is an exploration of friendship that extends beyond race and rank.


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