An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : Media : News : News Article View
NEWS | March 23, 2023

SECNAV Awards Navy Cross to Retired Korean War Veteran

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Aleksandr Freutel

SAN DIEGO, Calif. -- Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro awarded the Navy Cross Jan. 20 to retired Navy Capt. Royce Williams for his exploits during the Korean War at a ceremony at the San Diego Air and Space Museum.

The Navy Cross is an upgrade of the Silver Star Medal previously awarded to then-Lt. Williams on May 7, 1953, while assigned to the “Pacemakers” of Fighter Squadron (VF) 781, for combat action against seven Soviet Mikoyan Gurevich (MiG) 15 aircraft.

“Royce Williams was a Lieutenant in the United States Navy when he took the lead of an incredibly critical mission during the Korean War, resulting in the protection of Task Force 77 from enemy attack,” Del Toro said. “His actions almost 70 years ago earned him recognition, and he was awarded the Silver Star Medal. However, as the Secretary of the Navy, I have the authority to consider proposals to upgrade awards. Among the many cases I have reviewed, Captain Williams’ case stood out. It was very clear to me that his actions were extraordinary, and more closely aligned with the criteria describing a higher award … and sir, what a tremendous honor it was to tell you in person, that after all these years, your courageous actions would finally get the recognition they deserve.”

On Nov. 18, 1952, Williams was flying with two other members of VF-781 from Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Oriskany (CVA 34) when they encountered seven MiG-15 aircraft. Before they could engage, the team’s flight leader had to return to Oriskany due to a fuel pump issue, leaving only Williams and his wingman. After Williams downed the first MiG, his wingman chased the falling aircraft, and Williams found himself alone in air-to-air combat with the remaining MiGs.

“In the moment I was a fighter pilot doing my job … I was only shooting what I had,” said Williams in a previous account of the fight. “They had me cold on maneuverability and acceleration—the MiG was vastly superior on those counts to the F9F. The only thing I could do was out-turn them.”

Out-manned and piloting what was considered an inferior aircraft to the MiG-15, Williams engaged the enemy for 35 minutes, shooting down four of them in the longest dogfight in U.S. military history. Additionally, no other American fighter pilot has ever shot down four MiG-15s in one fight.

The Navy Cross is only awarded to service members who distinguish themselves for extraordinary heroism in combat with an armed enemy force and is the U.S. Navy’s second-highest military decoration.

Williams retired from the Navy in 1980, and his medals include the Navy Cross and two Distinguished Flying Crosses.

Like Us
Follow Us



Andersen AFB Updates on Services post Typhoon Mawar
Satellite image of Typhoon Mawar taken May 25, 2023.  Image courtesy 325th Operational Support Squadron, Tyndall AFB, Fla.
May 31, 2023 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Members of Team Andersen continue to prevail in the wake of Typhoon Mawar and persevere through the lack of services across the island; meanwhile, Brig. Gen. Paul Fast, 36th Wing commander,...

Decorated American Officer’s Last Remains to Head Home After 58 Years
Major General Harry Kleinbeck Pickett, Decorated American Officer’s Last Remains to Head Home After 58 Years.  Courtesy photo
May 31, 2023 - U.S. Embassy & Consulates in India -- The last remains of one of America’s most decorated officers, Major General Harry Kleinbeck Pickett, who fought in both World War I and World War II, is being returned home to the United...

Friendship Jump 2023
Japan Ground Self-Defense paratroopers with the 1st Airborne Brigade carry his parachute during the Japanese-American Friendship Festival 2023 at Yokota Air Base, Japan, May 21, 2023. Paratroopers from the U.S. Army 1st SFG (Airborne), USAF 320th Special Tactics Squadron, and JGSDF 1st Airborne Brigade conducted static-line jump demonstrations to show their capabilities during the festival. During the two-day festival, 193,000 attendees came to Yokota to experience the event. The festival is aimed at increasing bilateral relationships between U.S. and Japanese communities and allows people to see U.S. and Japanese military capabilities first-hand. (U.S. Air Force photo by Yasuo Osakabe)
May 31, 2023 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, TOKYO, Japan -- The annual Yokota Friendship Festival Joint Capabilities Demonstration draws in many festival-goers to view airborne demonstrations, with the 36th Airlift Squadron using their C-130J Super...

U.S. Philippines, Japan, Coast Guards Conduct Joint Maritime Law Enforcement Training
More than 30 participants from the Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, and Vietnam joined the Multinational Vessel Boarding Officer Course funded by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.  Courtesy photo
May 31, 2023 - MANILA, Philippines -- From May 15 to 26, coast guard instructors from the United States, the Philippines, and Japan jointly led a Multinational Vessel Boarding Officer Course in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan that...

USINDOPACOM Statement on DPRK Launch
May 30, 2023 - CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii -- “We are aware of the DPRK’s launch using ballistic missile technology, which, is a brazen violation of multiple unanimous UN Security Council resolutions, raises tensions, and risks destabilizing...