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Monday, April 15, 2024

Real-life “Top Gun” Korean War veteran receives Ambassador for Peace medal

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A 97-year-old Korean War veteran, the legendary top gun of the U.S. Navy, was awarded the Ambassador for Peace medal by the South Korean government.

The Consulate General of Los Angeles said on the 16th that they delivered the Ambassador for Peace medal to the South Korean War veteran, Colonel Royce Williams.

Deputy Consul General Kwon Sung-hwan showed deep appreciation to Colonel Williams for his courage and dedication in the Korean War at the medal ceremony held in San Diego, California.

In addition to the Ambassador for Peace Medal, Deputy Consul General Kwon also told Colonel Williams that he had proposed the Korean government to also grant him the Military Merit medal.

“During the war, Seoul was nothing but a ruined city with only two to three broken bridges left standing, and that was the last memory of Seoul for me. I was surprised to see the remarkable development Seoul has made when I visited Korea a few years ago,” said Colonel Williams.

“I still regret that we were not able to unify the Korean Peninsula,” he said.

Nicknamed the “Original Top Gun,” Williams is a legendary naval pilot who shot down four planes alone after a fierce airspace battle in November 1952 when he encountered seven Soviet MiG planes that appeared in the Hoeryeong area during the Korean War.

Williams fought a life-or-death battle at the time, with 263 bullet marks left on his F9F-5 plane.

However, the stories of the war were kept strictly confidential. This was because the incident could raise military tension between the U.S. and the Soviet Union, which could trigger World War III.

Williams also vowed to keep his story secret for life, and did not actually disclose it to anyone until the confidentiality was officially lifted in 2002.

After the stories of the war was made public, the U.S. military reevaluated Williams’ military achievements for the first time in 70 years and awarded him the Navy Cross, the second highest medal in the Navy.

Williams fought in the Vietnam War after the Korean War, and was discharged as a naval colonel in 1975.

The juniors he taught while teaching naval fighter pilots in the past became the first instructors of Top Gun, a famous air warfare education program.

“A decade before Tom Cruz was born, Williams was already a real-life “Top Gun.”” CNN reported when Williams received the Navy Cross last month.

 

[jamin74@yna.co.kr]