Capt. E. Royce Williams was awarded the Legion’s Medal of Valor after surviving an aerial battle against several Soviet fighter jets.
Williams, flying a Grumman F9F Panther, shot down four MiG-15s planes on November 18, 1952, expending all 760 rounds of 20mm ammunition on board his aircraft.
After the firefight, Williams returned safely to the aircraft carrier USS Oriskany to discover his plane had sustained 263 holes from enemy gunfire. The plane was eventually thrown overboard due to extensive damage. Williams’ bravery saved hundreds of lives, according to military officials.
But even more curious is that Williams, of Escondido, kept this skirmish under wraps for nearly 50 years.
“I was told not to talk about it and I just accepted it,” Williams told South Dakota Public Broadcasting earlier this month. “As a matter of fact, other things came along and since it wasn’t going to be mentioned, I more or less put it out of my mind.”
Born in 1925, Williams grew up in northeastern South Dakota before joining the Navy in 1943. During his 37-year-long military career, Williams has received the Distinguished Flying Cross, Silver and Bronze stars and Legion of Merit with a Combat “V.”
Congressman-elect Darrell Issa (R-50) also delivered remarks during the ceremony.
“It is still appropriate on a bipartisan basis that Congress push to make sure not just that you become a recipient of the Medal of Honor, but that in fact, you be a standard-bearer for many who are not here, who will not be remembered and who stories are often not as well documented,” Issa said.
Watch the KUSI interview with Williams below: