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    HomeUnited StatesU.S NavySecret Hero of Korean War Air Battle to Receive Navy Cross

    Secret Hero of Korean War Air Battle to Receive Navy Cross

    Secret Hero of Korean War Air Battle to Receive Navy Cross

    For more than 50 years, Navy pilot Royce Williams couldn't talk about his epic Korean War dogfight with seven Soviet fighter jets. He'd been sworn to secrecy because of Cold War sensitivities, and all mention of the battle was scrubbed from the official records.

    Now the 97-year-old Escondido resident is going to receive the Navy Cross, the second-highest award for combat valor. He said Friday afternoon that he's pleased to get the recognition.

    “My friends have been trying to get this for me for a long time,” he said.

    The ceremony is scheduled for Jan. 20 at noon at the  & Space Museum in Balboa Park.

    “The heroism and valor he demonstrated for 35 harrowing minutes 70 years ago in the skies over the North Pacific and the coast of North  saved the lives of his fellow pilots, shipmates, and crew,” U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa said in a statement Friday announcing the ceremony. “His story is one for the ages, but is now being fully told.”

    Issa and the other members of San Diego's congressional delegation have been part of an effort, launched almost a decade ago, to get the Pentagon to acknowledge Williams' exploits and to upgrade his Silver Star to something more appropriate.

    Called “Operation Just Reward,” the campaign has been aimed at bringing Williams the Medal of Honor, the military's top award. But the Navy Cross is a big step in the right direction, according to Steve Lewandowski,…

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