Skip to comments.Korean War Hero Tells 'Top Secret' Story 63 Years Later
Posted on 05/02/2016 2:27:01 PM PDT by nickcarraway
Williams single-handedly shot down four Russian fighters, a record-breaking feat never recognized or even known until recently
Retired U.S. Navy Cpt. E. Royce Williams will never forget November 18, 1952.
Here came four of them from the front side all firing and the others were coming around from the other side We came in head on, Williams remembered. I saw bullets go over me and under me then over me So the fight went on and on and on.
Williams, who fought in the Korean War, single-handedly shot down four Russian fighters a record-breaking feat never recognized or even known until recently.
Thats because Williams achievement was kept 'top secret' for more than 50 years.
I didn't tell anyone, including my wife and my brother whos a naval aviator. No one, Williams said. I had a meeting with President Eisenhower and I didnt even talk about that.
The weather was bad that day with low clouds, heavy wind and snow, but that didnt keep Williams from doing his duty.
In his F9F-5 Panther Williams took on seven superior MiG-15s in a fierce dogfight lasting roughly 35 minutes.
When I take into account the level capability of the airplane it was sort of like, God giving David a task of Goliath only I had seven Goliaths.
The aviation historians, the knowledgeable ones, will tell you without a blemish that this event by Royce was unmatched in the Korean War, was unmatched in the Vietnam War, unmatched ever since then. It stands alone all by itself as a really amazing situation, Rear Admiral Doniphan B. Shelton (Ret.) said. He was never recognized properly for what he did on this one day We hope he will be properly recognized sometime soon.
Last year Shelton initiated the request to have Williams achievement re-reviewed through Congressman Duncan Hunter's office along with the endorsements of two four star-admirals, Hays and Hayward.
Theres nothing wrong with the Silver Star that they gave him, believe me, thats a wonderful award, but its not what he earned, Shelton explained Shelton said if the proper record was known from the beginning Williams would have received the Navy Cross or Medal of Honor.
I am the only person to have ever shot down four jets in one mission...and on my first mission at that...so I don't know, maybe that qualifies, Williams said about the possibility of a medal. People say thank you for your service, I say thank you for letting me serve.
Now, Williams, who has been dubbed the forgotten hero of the forgotten war, may just be a little closer to being remembered.
Supporters of Williams and his story are creating a nationwide campaign to gather 100,000 signatures for a petition to demand a re-review for recognition.
They are launching the petition on Saturday May 14th at the San Diego Ride for Vets.
“You call this fun Mav?”
Well done Sir. Well done.
He should never have broken security, doesn’t matter how long ago it happened. His superior knew what he did and the rest of the people and the world do not need to know — it can only cause problems for the country.
Things are classified for a reason.
And what reason would that be?
We worked on F9Fs when I was in Mech Fun in NAS Memphis.
People today would be surprised at how small this bird was.
Smaller than a Sabre jet.
The Russkies were flying Red Chinese MiGs & talking on the radio in pidgin Chinese. Our side knew this but if word leaked out that Soviets were fighting us directly, the American public would have demanded nuclear war (the USSR had no missiles).
This is an amazing story & this air hero deserves the Medal of Honor.
I have a friend who is suspicious of him, because he wonders why the Navy would keep a potential PR victory silent?
Laughing at you. There is not a single possible reason that a dogfight from 64 years ago needs to be classified today. Can anyone imagine the shooting down of the red baron being classified as Reagan was sworn in?
The article doesn’t say whether they were Russian, Chicom, or Korcom fighters (unless I missed it).
My guess is that it must have happened on the other side of the Yalu or something like that, hence the secrecy.
If that is the case, I don’t see a problem with him disclosing it. I agree it is problematic for individuals deciding what classified material they will release or not, but I can’t see where this makes much difference.
Full Definition of top secret
: protected by a high degree of secrecy
a : containing or being information whose unauthorized disclosure could result in exceptionally grave danger to the nation compare confidential, secret
b : of or relating to top secret documents
I agree with you, DR. Unless space aliens were involved, there is no good reason to keep this classified. That would be an abuse of the classification system and result in less respect for the overall secrecy protection of the US.
Sounds like a great propaganda opportunity to me.
I did see where they mentioned “russian” fighters, but it was unclear to me if it was simply sloppy writing by journalists about military matters that we have become accustomed to.
Sure it does. Some items are marked to be declassified after so many years. That could be 5 years, 10 years or even 50 years. There comes a time when security is no longer applicable. For example, should the F-117 still be classified? Besides, you assume that he was the one who broke security without permission.
I agree with both of you, but...where does one draw the line? This seems remote and rather harmless, but when is it okay and who decides? If a Vietnam Vet decides to disclose something is that okay?
How about Desert Storm?
The problem I have with disclosure of classified material is...who decides, and are there any guidelines, or do we leave it up to the individual to decide?
Again, this seems pretty harmless to me. What are the Chicoms going to do, go after us because we broke the Yalu River understanding?
(1) "Top Secret" shall be applied to information, the unauthorized disclosure of which reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally grave damage to the national security that the original classification authority is able to identify or describe. E.O. 13526
I saw that too and wondered why they were called “Russian” fighters instead of “Soviet” fighters. I don’t think that was a mistake.
Even if they were Russian pilots, it is hard to see why that should be classified today.
I know back then, there were concerns about the USSR entering the conflict, and if so, that is likely why.
But how would we have known they were Soviet? Did we have intelligence? Could we hear their chatter? Did they have markings of the Soviet Air Force? If so, what were they doing conducting operations over the Korean peninsula?
If they were Soviet, we should keep in mind how concerned we were with getting into a nuclear conflict with them at the time.
A good account:
“ Admiral Briscoe informed Williams that the new National Security Agency had a team aboard the cruiser USS Helena, which recorded all the Russian radio traffic leading up to and during the fight; they had been the unit that warned the fleet when the Russians decided to send aircraft into the combat area. There was no way that the fight could be publicized, since there was too much of a chance that the Russians would learn how they had been spotted.
At the highest levels of U.S. and U.N. command, there was real fear that such an incident between U.S. and Soviet forces could change the police action of Korea into World War III. Never mind that Air Force pilots were fighting hundreds of Russian volunteers flying MiG-15s with North Korean markings in MiG Alley, this was a fight that had directly pitted the two great Cold War adversaries against each other nose-to-nose. After cautioning Williams to tell no one about the fight, the admiral revealed to him that the NSA team had proof he had gotten at least three of the MiGs, and that the fourth had crash landed. “
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