The Forgotten Hero of The Forgotten War
CAPT E. Royce Williams, USN, Retired, “Petition for Recognition”
We are coming upon the decade of extinction of the greatest men that ever lived. During World War II, “The Greatest Generation” gave their lives in service to our country without hesitation at a time where tyranny was plaguing the world and our nation’s fate was uncertain. Many of these young men were barely the legal age of drinking and some were still in their teens. They stood on principles of integrity, courage and their love of country. What we have at present are their fading memories and their stories that few can bear to tell.
It is our responsibility as the “Next Generation” to recognize and honor the sacrifices and accomplishments of the generations before us. If we want a nation that values integrity, courage and our founding principles, then we must stand next to our brothers and sisters who have fought and continue to fight for our great nation. We must raise our voices of gratitude, to re-assure them, that we, the reminisce of the “Greatest Generation,” will continue to preserve what they fought so hard to protect. We must honor them today, before they are gone tomorrow.
What seems to be lost as a nation is not lost forever… America, as in the people can regain their conscience. We have the opportunity to honor the last of our Living Legends and our Forgotten Heroes. CAPT E. Royce Williams, USN, Retired is one of the remaining “Forgotten Heroes of the Forgotten War.” He was only 16 when he joined the service in February, 1942. Williams served our country for over 30 years and retired in 1980. He has flown over 220 missions, mainly in Korea and Vietnam, but one aerial engagement during the Korean War stands above them all.
On November 18th, 1952, CAPT E. Royce Williams, USN Retired, then Lieutenant (Lt.), during the height of the “Korean conflict,” single-handedly engaged in a fierce aerial combat that no other American aviator has accomplished either in the Korean War, Vietnam War or since then. Up against freezing temperatures, 400’ ceiling, snow clouds and 40 knot winds, Williams fought 7 MiG-15s while protecting Task Force 77 in his inferior F9F-5 Panther. His superb piloting skills and gunnery accounted for three known MiG-15s downed and a fourth (the flight leader) confirmed some years later. With Lt. Williams having fired all of his ammo and suffering a 37 mm hit in his right wing stub by a closely pursuing Mig-15 that caused total loss of rudder and flaps, Williams dove for cloud cover. He was left with only elevator control and a little aileron control and still, Lt. Williams skillfully jinked and porpoised until he was safely in the snow clouds. Williams was preparing for a straight in approach towards the USS Oriskany, when he momentarily was forced to avoid friendly fire.
Lt. Williams dropped his tailhook and gravity dropped his landing gear. The damage made the aircraft uncontrollable below 170 knots, critically above the normal 105 knots, with 40 knots of wind across the deck, yet, Lt. Williams demonstrated masterful airmanship in landing safely aboard, barely catching the #3 wire. Examination of his F9F-5 Panther aircraft revealed 263 bullet holes. The damage was so severe they could not repair the plane and it had to be pushed overboard. He fought entirely over water, halfway between the USS Oriskany and Vladivostok. Lt. Williams’ courage above and beyond the call of duty against overwhelming odds, stopped the MiG-15s’ attack in its tracks.
During a private one on one meeting with Vice Admiral (VADM) Briscoe, Commander Naval Forces, FarEast, Briscoe disclosed that there was a “secret” intelligence agency in place, called the National Security Agency (NSA) and that they were on their first mission when the Nov. 18th event took place. The NSA confirmed 3 MiG-15 kills that day with Signal Intelligence, “real time” voice intercepts. VADM Briscoe ordered Lt. Williams “not to tell anyone” about the engagement. Williams didn’t, not his squadron Commanding Officer (CO), not his Commander Air Group (CAG), not the CO of the USS Oriskany, not Carrier Task Force 77 (CTF-77), not even his wife.
Shortly after the confirmation, at President elect Eisenhower’s personal request, Lt. Williams was honored and toasted in a meeting in Seoul, Korea mid-December, 1952. Also present were Secretary of Defense Wilson, General (Gen) Mark Clark, Gen Omar Bradley, Gen Ridgeway, Admiral (ADM) Radford, Vice Admiral (VADM) Jocko Clark (CTF-77), and Eisenhower’s son, John Eisenhower.
Due to political concerns in Washington regarding the newly established secret intelligence (NSA), the recording of the aerial engagement could not be revealed. At the time, Russia insisted they were neutral during the Korean conflict and the MiG-15s were indeed flown by Russian pilots. These two major factors invoked a “Top Secret” lid on the event to avoid the “conflict” to escalate into another World War. Although, Williams was awarded the Silver Star for one confirmed kill, the crucial NSA information was not available to the USS Oriskany nor the drafters of the Silver Star awarded.
His amazing feat was kept “Top Secret” for over fifty years. The challenge has been obtaining accurate records, which has been very difficult since a “phony” report was submitted to appease Washington’s request on the day of the event. Although Russia has confirmed the names of the four downed pilots, the death certificates of the Russian pilots have not yet been attained.
CAPT Williams is 91 years old and he humbly resides in Escondido. He is our “Hometown Hero” and we have the opportunity to honor this great man before he leaves on his final mission. We are asking for your help. We are gathering signatures to demand a re-review for recognition on CAPT Williams behalf. You can help honor our “Forgotten Hero,” by signing and sharing the petition at www.HomelandMagazine.com. We need 100,000 in less than 30 days for Congress to consider a re-review for recognition.
We are working with Congressman Hunter and Peters office to help with the cause and efforts have been made in support of the “Petition for Recognition.” 95 year old, Rear Admiral Shelton, who is a fellow Golden Eagle to Williams, started the initial request for re-review for recognition through Congressman Hunter’s office in 2014.
This year, American Legion, Combat Veteran Association and many other Rider groups joined the May SD Ride for Vets to support the cause. San Diego Harley-Davidson owner and veteran advocate, NY Myke, assisted Homeland Magazine’s representative with the nationwide campaign to gather signatures and to meet with the Rolling Thunder in DC. Our local newscaster, Matt Rascon, excellently covered the exclusive on Channel 8 to help promote awareness amongst San Diego residents.
San Diego Mayor Faulconer, Escondido Mayor Abed and Chula Vista Mayor Salas deemed and set forth proclamations that on Nov. 18th, “CAPT Williams Day” will be honored in recognition for his act of valor given in service to our country during the Korean War.
Despite all of our effort, we were not able to obtain all of the signatures needed on our first attempt, which impelled this September’s ROUND 2! “Petition for Recognition.” The most recent effort in support of “The Petition for Recognition” was organized by Patriot guard and American Legion Rider, Bill “Doc” Reid and Sweetwater Harley-Davidson.
The event was held on August 20th, where Artist Richard W. DeRosset presented CAPT Williams with a commemorative painting of the remarkable aerial engagement that took place over 63 years ago. The painting is called, “Seven Mice and a Panther” and it is the most accurate depiction of the event to date.
Part of the mission for CAPT Williams “Petition for Recognition” is to revive what has been forgotten and to restore what has been taken; Our love and respect for our country and each other. Please join us in honoring our Forgotten Hero, CAPT E. Royce Williams, USN, Retired, by signing the petition at www.HomelandMagazine.com.
Written by, CJ Machado, photo journalist and veteran advocate