This US Navy pilot had to keep an aerial dog fight a secret for over 50 years, and here’s why:
During the Korean #War on November 18 1952, Captain Royce “Elmer” Williams and two other pilots were tasked with intercepting a group of seven Russian MiG’s. The MiG’s were heading toward their cruiser, the USS Oriskany.
The American pilots were vastly inferior to the MiG’s in speed, maneuverability, acceleration, and firepower, and the only thing they could do was out-turn them.
A 35 minute dog fight (one of the longest on record) saw four of the MiG’s shot down and two more hit.
Williams was able to limp his plane back to the cruiser. The crew counted 263 bullet holes and were shocked that Williams was able to make it back safely.
The story of his battle with the Soviet-piloted MiGs was covered up by the U.S. government, because at that time the Soviet Union was not officially a combatant in the Korean War and it was feared that the story of the air battle would draw the Soviets further into the conflict. The dogfight itself was scrubbed from U.S. Navy and National Security Agency records, and Williams was sworn to secrecy about the incident—so much so that he never told anyone about it, even his wife or his pilot brother, until the Korean War records were declassified in the early 2000s. The record of the incident in Navy records says only that he shot down one plane and damaged another, for which he was awarded the Silver Star in 1953.
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