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OGTA Debrief #4 - Captain Royce Williams 'Actions Speak Louder Than Medals'

On 2 December 2020, educators, teachers and leaders had the opportunity to meet and interact with Korean War hero, Capt. Royce Williams (ret)

The interview was part of the Old Guys and their Airplanes “Debrief” series and brought to the public, free of charge by the  Distinguished Flying Cross Society (DFCS), South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB), South Dakota Air & Space Museum and  San Diego Air & Space Museum. 

Williams’ mark on history was made on November 18 of 1952 when he faced seven Russian-flown MiG-15 fighter planes and  single-handedly downed at least four, flying a distinctly inferior aircraft. During the fight, Williams’ F9F Panther received a number of hits that dramatically reduced the aircraft’s ability to maintain controlled flight. Nevertheless, Williams was able to evade enemy fire and return to the carrier. Additionally, at 38 minutes, the dogfight was one-of, if not the, longest duration dogfights in American  history.  

Because of sensitivities with Korean War negotiations and a risk of accelerating the conflict with direct American to Russian combat, the incident was obfuscated and rendered Classified. It was only decades later that records became unsealed; had not been for the dedicated work of U.S. Navy leaders (lead by Rear Admiral Doniphan Shelton), Royce’s story may well have remained secret. Indeed, Williams respected secrecy protocol — waiting over forty years to tell his wife, Camilla. 

Williams continued to fly combat into the Vietnam War, exhibiting the same commitment to excellence, humility and passion in  order to fulfill his sworn duty. Today, Williams recognizes the power of his story as a way to inspire others that they too can overcome overwhelming odds and prevail beyond the need for personal fame. 

Williams is especially proud of his South Dakota roots, growing up near Wilmot, SD prior to entering service during the last year of  WWII. 

Captain Royce Williams Educators Kit

The Captain Royce Williams (ret.) Educators Kit is provided HERE.

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Artifact of History: Grumman F9F-5 Panther print signed by Korean War hero, Royce Williams
Artifact of History: Grumman F9F-5 Panther print signed by Korean War hero, Royce Williams
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