Feb 16, 1953: Back when athletes were called upon during war

Ted WIlliams is a former baseball player salon.com

On February 16, 1953, Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox crashed his F9F Panther fighter jet in the aftermath of a raid during the Korean war.

But, the adroitly skillful lad was lucky enough to escape with barely a scratch and even live to a ripe old age.

Born Theodore Samuel Williams on August 30, 1918, in San Diego, California, he was precociously talented in baseball from his childhood and later came to be deservedly regarded as one the greatest players in the sport’s history.

His truckload of awards and records set and never since broken confidently bear this fact out pretty well.

While he had served in World War II as a pilot in the Marine Corps, he had not actually seen combat.

So, while the world frantically tore itself apart, he was busily training other pilots to become aerial assassins in the drive to defeat the Axis powers.

Soon, however, came the Korean war, with demand sky-high for qualified pilots to repel the North Korean invaders and prevent a Communist takeover of the entire Korean peninsula.

Williams was recalled from the reserves list in early 1952 and put in refresher courses to re-learn and re-adapt to the rather unique skill of piloting an aircraft.

On February 16, 1953, in his third combat mission, he took part in a massive raid on a tank and infantry training school near the North Korean capital, Pyongyang.

As expected, defense over the area was heavy and Williams’ jet suffered a hit from anti-aircraft artillery that knocked out its electronics and hydraulics control.

He managed to limp back to a nearby airfield with the jet partially afire and somehow nursed the crippled jet down.

For this impressive feat, he was awarded the Air medal.

All together, he flew 39 missions in the war, but was shipped back home alive and kicking in August 1953.

He died on July 5, 2002.

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