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90-year-old Royce Williams of Escondido, CA shares his story on episode #408 of Hometown Heroes, debuting February 27, 2016. It’s a story he was not allowed to share for more than a half century, and a story that is pretty difficult to fathom.
In an interview recorded during a weekly meeting of the “Old Bold Pilots” in Oceanside, CA, Williams explains how he and his brother both developed aviation dreams growing up in Wilmot, SD. Their father had been a machine gunner in World War I, and both Royce and his older brother Lynn were determined to serve their country as well. Lynn would become a Marine Corps fighter pilot, while Royce ended up in the Navy. Lynn would taste World War II combat in the Battle of Okinawa, while Royce’s WWII years were spent training in a variety of planes, including the SBD Dauntless, the F6F Hellcat, and the F8F Bearcat. You’ll hear what he witnessed when being sent to Nagasaki not long after the nuclear detonation there, and you’ll hear about what his exploits on November 18, 1952 over the Sea of Japan. Those heroics made him, as a recent Homeland Magazine article put it, “The Forgotten Hero of the Forgotten War.”
The Korean War is often referred to as “The Forgotten War,” but it’s not that Royce forgot what happened in snowy, windy skies that day, he was just forbidden to discuss it for national security reasons.