Royce Williams, the legendary US fighter pilot who shot down 4 Soviet MiG jets in 35 minutes during the Korean War. Royce Williams’ photo/Facebook
WASHINGTON – Royce Williams was a real-life “Top Gun” 10 years before Tom Cruise was born.
On a cold November day in 1952, Williams shot down four Soviet MiG fighter jets—and became a legend no one would hear of in over 50 years.
The former United States Navy aviator, now 97 years old, was presented with the Navy Cross, the military’s second highest honor, at a ceremony Friday (20/1/2023) in California.
Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said Friday that among the many proposals he has reviewed to increase seafarers’ awards, Williams’ case stands out above all others. “It’s very clear to me that her actions are absolutely outstanding and much closer to the criteria that would describe a higher medal,” he said.
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“Freedom doesn’t come cheap,” said Del Toro. “It comes through the sacrifices of everyone who has served and continues to serve in the military today. Your actions that day set you free. It freed your shipmates in Task Force 77. Indeed, it freed all of us,” he said, as quoted by CNN, Saturday (21/1/2023).
This is what Williams did to earn that honor.
Outnumbered and Armed
On November 18, 1952, Williams flew the F9F Panther—the US Navy’s first fighter jet—on a mission during the Korean War.
She took off from the USS Oriskany, which is operating with three other carriers in a task force in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, 100 miles off the coast of North Korea.
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