A Lifetime of Service

Enlisting right out of high school, Rear Admiral Doniphan B. Shelton, US Navy, Ret, began a career that spanned 40 years, serving from August 1939 to October 1979. A combat veteran of World War II, Korea, and the protracted conflict in Vietnam, Rear Admiral Shelton logged an impressive 4000 total flight hours with 500 Carrier/Ship landings. While participating in combat operations in the Korean peninsula in March 1951, Admiral Shelton was forced to perform a pre-dawn "dead-stick" landing of his F4U-5N aircraft aboard the USS Princeton. Many years later, Shelton points out that he was not even given a congratulatory handshake for these actions, let alone an award. This event and the apathy of Shelton's command influenced the retired admiral, in no small part, to recognize the heroic actions of a fellow Naval aviator nearly 50 years later. Outnumbered and piloting inferior aircraft, Captain E. Royce Williams, US Navy, Ret, spent 35 minutes in a dogfight during which he single-handedly downed four Soviet MiG-15's. Later accounts provide evidence to suggest that a fifth MiG crashed while en route back to the Soviet Union. To alleviate Cold War fears that the actions would result in larger-scale warfare between the two nations, the events that took place on 18 November 1952 would quickly become classified Top Secret and be shuttered in the annals of Cold War archives until 1992. As directed by his command, Williams kept his actions and the events of the aerial engagement a secret until the early 1990s, illuminating the complex foreign policies and geopolitics that took place in those early Cold War years. For his part, Rear Admiral Shelton has spent his nineties researching the events that took place on that fateful day in 1952 and has amassed an impressive journal of evidence to support his request that Captiain Williams receives a Medal of Honor for his actions in 1952. Based upon Shelton's research, in 2017, during the Ninety-Ninth National Convention, the American Legion resolved to petition the United States Congress and Department of Defense to award the then 95-year old Captain Williams the Medal of Honor (MOH) on behalf of his actions in 1952. To date, the request remains in Congress pending approval. In his fight for Williams’ MOH, we must acknowledge Admiral Shelton’s life of service to the country and the Navy he loves. For his work on Williams’ behalf, Shelton was awarded an Honorary Ph.D. from National University in 2020,

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