Former Navy pilot Royce Williams shot down four Soviet jets — and kept the feat secret for 50 years


PREMO Member
On Nov. 18, 1952, Williams was conducting combat air patrol in a F9F Panther with three other US fighter pilots along the Yalu River, over the northernmost part of Korean Peninsula that separates North Korea from China, and near what was then the Soviet Union.

The leader of their patrol suffered mechanical problems and left with his wingman back to a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Sea of Japan. Then Williams and his wingman noticed seven Soviet MiG-15s heading toward the Americans.

“They just didn’t come out of Russia and engage us in any way before,” Williams told the American Veterans Center.

After the pair were ordered to get between the Soviet forces and the U.S. aircraft carriers, four of the MiGs began shooting at the pair, leading Williams to return fire.

Despite being told to stand down, for the next half-hour, Williams outmaneuvered the Soviet fighter jets. He unloaded all 760 rounds of the 20mm shells his plane carried, and took 263 holes to his own jet, but managed to return to the aircraft carrier uninjured.