WILLIAMS--Robert George. Lieutenant Colonel, USAF, 94, of Redington Beach, Florida, died peacefully on August 20, 2012. World War II fighter pilot of 137 combat missions, Robert was the husband of the late Ada Williams. He was born on September 26, 1917 in Lisbon, Ohio. He graduated from St. Petersburg Junior College in 1938. In October 1940, he enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force and entered flight training school, receiving his commission as a Sergeant Pilot in October 1941. Robert was assigned to the #611 Fighter Squadron of the Royal Air Force of Great Britain and transferred to Scotland in November of 1941. He flew thirty-three combat missions with the Royal Air Force in Mark 9 Spitfires, and was promoted to the rank of Pilot Officer. When the United States entered the war in December, 1941, he joined his fellow Americans and transferred to the United States Army Air Corps, 4th Fighter Group, 8th Air Force, stationed in Debden, England. He flew a hundred and four combat missions over Germany and occupied France. On March 21, 1944, he was shot down over Angers, France while strafing German military installations as commander of a squadron of P-51 Mustangs. German soldiers captured him and after resisting interrogation, he was taken to Stalag Luft 1, a German prisoner of war camp in Barth, Germany on the Baltic Sea. The Russian Army liberated the camp in May 1945. After being liberated he and his fellow POWs, liberated the nearby Barth concentration camp. He returned to England and married Ada Bridger, a member of the Royal Air Force Women's Auxiliary on June 1, 1945. Robert was twice awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for Valor in Combat, four Air Medals for Combat Operations, a Purple Heart, the POW Medal and other awards. After the war he began a distinguished twenty-eight year career with the United States Air Force, retiring with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel in August 1970 at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida. Robert was the adored father of Valerie Williams of Tampa, Florida and Kenneth Williams and his wife Leslie O'Brien of Santa Monica, California. He was the beloved grandfather of Carlisle Williams of New York City and Jamison Williams of Santa Monica, California. Memorial services will be held with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Memorial donations may be made in memory of Lieutenant Colonel Robert G. Williams to the American Air Museum c/o Imperial War Museum, Duxford, Cambridgeshire, England.
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Published in The New York Times on Aug. 26, 2012