Hall of Heroes: Veteran helicopter pilot survived being shot down

Veteran helicopter pilot survived being shot down

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Leading up to Veterans Day on Nov. 11, WAFF 48 News is honored to introduce you to the local veterans, inducted into this year’s Madison County Hall of Heroes.

The next hero knew when he was just a boy that he wanted to be a soldier and serve his country.

“I’ve got my favorite picture where I’m in my father’s jump boots, looking up saluting him and I knew I would follow in his father’s footsteps," said retired Col. Michael Williams.

Williams spent 28 years in the military as an Apache helicopter pilot serving in Germany, Korea, Afghanistan and three tours in Iraq. But on June 12, 2003, his Apache was shot down by the enemy.

“I broke my back and I had some other injuries but I fractured my spine. I went in that day with four aircraft and only two made it home. It’s something that weighs on me every day. But it made me realize what was going on out there,” said Williams.

Despite his injuries, he returned as a ground element three years later, deploying with the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade as deputy commanding officer to Afghanistan.

He was awarded several medals. Some of them include the Legion of Merit, Purple Heart, five Air Medals, and three Bronze Stars.

“I’m proud of my last Bronze Star. I was deploying 4,500 personnel to Afghanistan and bring all of them home safely when you can do that, that’s an accomplishment,” added Williams.

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