27 September 1968 – Kuldar “Koot” Visnapuu was serving with the 174th TFS Phu Cat “Bats” in Vietnam. Lt. Kuldar Visnapuu’s had just taken off from a base in South Vietnam when his Supersabre was hit by enemy fire. He turned the plane toward the South China Sea and ejected safely, watching as his jet
Ronald K. Williams
Ron Williams graduated from Salina High School in 1954, and entered the United States Air Force in November 1956 as an Airman Basic. He was accepted into the Aviation Cadet Flight Training Program, and after flying the T-34 and T-28 at Graham AB, Marianna, Fla., he was sent to Bryan AFB, College Station, Texas, and flew the T-33A. He graduated and was commissioned a 2/Lt. in March 1957.
His next assignment was to Luke AFB Arizona, to check out in the F-84F, then to Nellis AFB Nevada, where he was in the 3rd class of 2nd Lieutenants to complete initial fighter qualification in the Air Force’s first supersonic fighter, the F-100A. In December 1957, he arrived at Itazuke AFB Japan and was assigned as a fighter-bomber pilot flying the F-100D and F-100F with the 80th Fighter-Bomber Squadron, 8th Fighter-Bomber Wing, 5th Air Force. The 80th was the first unit in the Far East to be equipped with nuclear weapons.
In 1960, Lt. Williams was selected to be assigned as an instructor pilot back at Nellis AFB, in his previous student squadron, the 4521 CCTS, In 1961, he was assigned to the Training Analysis and Development section of Group Headquarters as the F-100 Training Officer. In 1962, Lt. Williams became the youngest ranking officer in the Air Force to fly the F-110A, which was later to become the F-4. In 1963, without having attended himself, he was assigned to be an instructor pilot in the USAF Fighter Weapons School.
In 1964, Captain Williams was selected for one of the 13 USAF/USN exchange tours offered to all USAF pilots every two years. His Navy unit was equipped with the A-3B which is the largest heavy attack jet aircraft ever flown from an aircraft carrier. After a six-month checkout and Carrier qualifications on the USS Oriskany, he was assigned to the USS Midway as the assistant operations officer in VAH (Heavy Attack) Squadron 8, Carrier Air Wing TWO. The USS Midway was deployed to the South China Sea and in March of 1965, USS Midway pilots and crew members flew the first combat missions flown in North Vietnam. Captain Williams flew 110 combat missions over Vietnam and made 141 carrier landings. He is the only USAF pilot to be qualified as a “Centurion” (100 arrested landings in one aircraft on one carrier), in the A-3B.
In December of 1965, Captain Williams was assigned as an instructor pilot in VAH 123, the training squadron (RAG) at NAS Whidbey Island Washington, While there he instructed carrier landing techniques to Navy student pilots upgrading to the A-3B and the TA-3B.
In June 1966, Capt. Williams left active duty and joined the Kansas ANG’s 184th Tactical Fighter Group, flying the F-100C. At this time, he was hired as a pilot by Trans World Airlines and domiciled in Kansas City. In 1967, he volunteered for Army Airborne Parachutist Training and made five parachute jumps from a C-119 at Fort Benning, Ga. At the completion of this training, he was presented the Army’s “Iron Mike” trophy for outstanding leadership.
In 1968, because of the Pueblo Crisis in Korea, Captain Williams was recalled to active duty with the KANG. After 3, non-stop, Trans Pac flights in the F-100C from Wichita, the 184th was deployed to its new home of Kunsan AB, Korea.
In 1969, he returned to the States and his job at TWA. He transferred from the KANG to the MOANG at St Louis, Mo., flying the T-33A. In 1971, Captain Williams transferred to the 507th Tactical Fighter Group (AFRES) at Tinker AFB OK. The 507th had been selected to be the first Air Force Reserve unit to be equipped with fighter aircraft (F-105D and F-105F) since the Korea War. Captain Williams was the first reservist in the 507th to fly a tactical mission in the “Thud”.
After 10 years and more than 1,200 hours in the F-105D and F, Lt/Colonel Williams checked out in the F-4D which he flew until being promoted (to Colonel in 1982), and out of a flying slot. While in the 507th, Col. Williams progressed from Squadron pilot, to Flight Commander, to Operations Officer, Squadron Commander, and Group DCO. In 1982, he was assigned to be the United States Air Force Reserve, M-day Assignee to the Chief of fighter Safety at Norton AFB, CA. In addition to the aircraft mentioned, Colonel Williams had flown the H-43, C-47, DC-6, F-8D, A-4C, F-16D, CV-880, B-727, B-707, L-JetStar, L-1011, DC-9, MD-80, MD-82, and the B-747. He had zero accidents for over 33,500 hours and had Airline Transport Ratings in four heavy commercial jet transports, up to and including, the B-747.
Colonel Williams military decorations include the USN Air Medal with 4 Gold Stars, the USN Commendation Medal with Combat V and several other Navy, Army, Air Force, and Air Force Reserve medals. He had been a USAF admissions officer since 1978 and resided in Salina, Kan. Colonel Williams was the current USAFA/ROTC Admissions Officer for the Central Kansas area.