San Diego Air & Space Museum to Host Live Virtual Debrief with Korean War Pilot CAPT Royce Williams Dec. 2

Dec. 1, 2020

On Dec. 2, educators, teachers and leaders will have the opportunity to meet and interact with Korean War hero, CAPT Royce Williams (ret).

The interview is part of the Old Guys and their Airplanes “Debrief” series and brought to the public by the Distinguished Flying Cross Society (DFCS), South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB), South Dakota Air & Space Museum and San Diego Air & Space Museum. There is no charge to participate in this online, streaming event.

Williams’ mark on history was made on Nov. 18, 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 it 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 WWII service in 1942. Today, Williams is 95, a lifetime member of the Distinguished Flying Cross Society and grateful to the opportunity provided by his upbringing and freedoms. Effort is under way to upgrade his Silver Star to the Congressional Medal of Honor.