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Minnesota town wants nation to remember ‘forgotten hero’ who shot down Russian fighter jets

CLINTON, Minn. -- The small town of Clinton has not forgotten its native son for his bravery in the service of country. It's hoping the nation will not either. Residents in the Big Stone County community are joining an online petition by Homeland...

CLINTON, Minn. -- The small town of Clinton has not forgotten its native son for his bravery in the service of country.

It’s hoping the nation will not either.

Residents in the Big Stone County community are joining an online petition by Homeland Magazine calling for retired Navy Captain E. Royce Williams to be awarded the Medal of Honor. The petition drive is seeking 100,000 signatures by month’s end.

It aims to recognize Williams, 91, of Escondido, Calif., for shooting down four MiG-15 fighter jets with Russian pilots during the Korean War. The dogfight had been kept classified during the Cold War. With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1992, the Russians confirmed that four of its pilots had been lost as a result of the battle over the Sea of Japan on Nov. 18, 1952.

Homeland Magazine calls Williams “the forgotten hero from the forgotten war.’’

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According to published reports in the Washington Post and Homeland Magazine, Williams was piloting one of four F9F-5 Panthers that were launched from the USS Oriskany to intercept seven enemy MiGs detected by radar.  

In a 35-minute dogfight, Williams knocked out four MiG-15s in a fighter jet considered inferior to its Russian adversary. Three of the MiGs crashed into the Sea of Japan. The fourth pilot died when he crashed his jet in an attempt to return to Vladivostok, according to Homeland Magazine.

Williams barely made it back to the aircraft carrier in his crippled fighter. His fighter had 263 holes in it from the Russian MiGs, according to the accounts.

The Northern Star newspaper in Clinton has told the story of Williams’ bravery in recent articles also telling about the online campaign. A Clinton resident, Florence Adolphson had kept in contact with Williams and alerted the newspaper to the online campaign.

David Torgerson, formerly the Northern Star’s publisher, called Williams “a real hero.’’ Torgerson has talked to Williams by telephone, and reports that he is excited about the current online petition.

Williams is a 1943 graduate of the Clinton High School. His late wife, Camilla (Forde), was also a Clinton native, Torgerson said.

He said many veterans in the Clinton area have been aware of Williams’ distinguished military career.

Williams has been awarded 21 combat awards for service that included 70 mission during the Korean War (1952-53) and 110 missions in the Vietnam War (1965-67), according to the Northern Star.

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The Northern Star reported that a California woman, C.J. Machado, launched the online petition to see that Williams is recognized for this otherwise forgotten chapter in a war often referred to as our “forgotten war.’’

The petition and account of Williams dogfight can be found at www.HomelandMagazine.com .

Related Topics: BIG STONE COUNTYCLINTON
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