OGTA DEBRIEF - Capt. Royce Williams

Capt. Williams Answers 9-Year-Old's Question

On December 2 of this year at 11:00 am Central time Old Guys and Their Airplanes host John Mollison conducted a live conversation at the San Diego Air and Space Museum with Korean War pilot Capt. E. Royce Williams, USN (retired). 

SDPB 03 500

SDPB Control Room - Vermillion, SD
Rick Lingberg (OGTA) and Rex Kinnear (SDPB)

Williams, a native of Wilmot, SD, received Silver Star for action that took place on Nov. 18, 1952 when Williams, flying a Navy F9F-5 Panther shot down four Soviet MiG-15s in a matter of 35 minutes. 

The interview was transmitted (via Zoom) from San Diego to the South Dakota Public Broadcasting's (SDPB) control room in Vermillion, South Dakota and then simulcast on the SDNET app and Facebook Live. Somewhere online was a 9-year-old listening to the 95-year-old pilot share his experiences. A telephone number appeared on the screen which said, "TEXT US WITH YOUR QUESTIONS". The curious 9-year-old obliged, "How much fuel did you have left when you returned to the aircraft carrier?" 

His question immediately appeared on a screen in the control room at SDPB and was relayed to host John Mollison via a cell phone ear bud in California who he passed on the question to Capt. Williams.  [see his answer in video below]

This 9-year-old, not only was able to learn first-hand of Williams' astounding engagement against top-notch Russian fighters and how he prevailed, but became an active participant in sharing Royce Williams story and his influential message on to how to respond to difficult situations then and now.

Because Williams’ mission was an engagement with Soviet pilots it was classified Top Secret. Royce Williams waited over 50 years – after the collapse of the Soviet Union – before mentioning his experience. Today there is an effort to upgrade his award to the Medal of Honor.

An eager to learn 9-year-old somewhere in the United States got to ask a question from a 95-year-old who was a part of American history. I don't know if the question or the answer was that important. But, the fact that he could and he did certainly was.

Royce Williams 02
Click here to see complete episode.


The Distinguished Flying Cross Society (DFCS) is sponsoring OGTA's online, live "Debrief" interviews as part of their commitment to ensure that the stories of its members heroic actions are made available to the general public. South Dakota Public Broadcasting (SDPB) is providing broadcast support, making the interview available at no cost to the public with emphasis on educators and group leaders.

Fritz Miller, Director of Marketing for SDPB explains, "Our mission is to provide community outreach projects that educate, enlighten and entertain. When we learned how the DFCS and OGTA were working to continue their own missions of promoting American history, especially in this Covid-19 environment, we wanted to support their work."

Bruce Huffman, Chairman of the Board for the DFCS, stated, "We have over 3,500 members and each one has a story that proves ordinary people can rise to meet extraordinary challenges. General McGee's example personifies the achievements within our group and the values we hope to inspire in others."

Logo SDPB Logo SDASM Logo Society Logo Logo OGTA

OGTA: Debriefs

If you would like to see all the "OGTA:DEBRIEF" click on any of the images below. 

Debrief McGee3 120 Debrief Certain 120 Debrief Mahrt 120 Debrief Williams 120 Debrief OwenHuffman 120
Charles McGee
Bob Certain
Marty Mahrt
Royce Williams