US Navy Captain E. Royce Williams

US Navy Captain E. Royce Williams, then and now.

On November 18, 1952 US Navy Captain E. Royce Williams and 3 other pilots took off from the USS Oriskany to cut off 7 Soviet MIG-15s that were headed towards the carrier. Just as they caught sight of the contrails of the Soviet MIGs, one of the pilots called out over the radio that he was having fuel pump trouble and him and his wingman turned back towards the aircraft carrier. That just left Royce and his wingman Dave Rowlands to defend from these enemy aircrafts. One of the MIGs fired on Capt. Williams and the fight was on.

Royce returned fire on the attacking MIG and made a direct hit. As that plane descended down through the clouds, Rowlands followed it to confirm the hit. With his wingman gone, the remaining 6 MIGs descended upon Williams. The US pilot was flying a Grumman F9F Panther which was slower than the MIG-15s but more maneuverable. He used this to his advantage and over the next 35 minutes, he was in the dogfight of a lifetime in which he shot down 3 more Soviet MIGs. 

At some point in the fighting, his plane was damaged in the electrical and hydraulic systems, so he had to turn back towards the carrier. Whilst descending to his landing, he realized that his plane would not slow down below 170 knots, with 105 knots being normal landing speed. He made a crash landing and his plane was found to have over 260 bullet holes in it. He was relatively unharmed with his only wounds being a bloody neck from whipping his head back and forth to try and catch sight of enemy planes.

His commanding officers feared the that fight may cause strife with the Soviet Union and Williams was sworn to secrecy. He did not speak a word of it for 40 years and due to poor reporting, he still has not received the recognition he deserves. Captain Williams was awarded the Silver star for his actions but there is currently a bill being proposed to the House of Representatives to get him the Medal of Honor. Capt. Williams flew over 180 missions and served with the Navy on active duty for 32 years.

Thank you for your service Captain E. Royce Williams!


Mitchel Hightower

I am a recent graduate from the University of Idaho with a bachelor's degree in marketing.

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One of the MIGs fired on Capt. Williams and the fight was on.

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