Ted Williams Crash Lands
This Day In Baseball History: February 19th
On this day in 1953, Ted Williams crash-landed his fighter jet after a combat mission in the Korean War. Of course, Red Sox fans know about Ted Williams's time in the military and how it might have held him back from some significant hitting milestones. In all, his time in the military cost Williams five seasons. William’s never complained about his time in the military when it came to his baseball career. He felt it was his duty as an American to serve when called. Whether he wanted to be called is a separate issue. However, opposite of our last player-soldier, Joe DiMaggio, Williams saw combat during his service. Let us learn more about his time in the military.
Williams had already established himself as one of the best players in baseball when he was drafted into the military during World War II. He was in the military for three years during the war, but did not see combat and spent his time training other pilots. When the war ended he was placed in the inactive reserves. However, during the Korean War his name was called again. Williams was upset by this as he thought he had done his time. Regardless he reported for duty.
Williams was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Marines and trained as a fighter pilot. He was assigned to VMF-311, a Marine fighter squadron, and flew more than 30 combat missions during the war. Williams was known for his skill as a pilot and his fearlessness in the face of danger. He was future astronaut John Glenn’s wingman and was well respected among the men. In addition to his combat duties, Williams also played a role in training other pilots.
Williams was honored for his service with several medals and awards, including the Air Medal with two Gold Stars, the Navy Presidential Unit Citation, and the Korean Service Medal with two Bronze Stars. He was also inducted into the U.S. Marine Corps Sports Hall of Fame in 2001.
Despite his time in the military, Williams never lost the itch for baseball. He continued to play for the Red Sox after the war and a few years later at the age of 38 batted .388.
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