Rodney D. Williams
Died: November 27, 1972
Born in Delafield, Wisconsin in 1896, Rodney Williams was a student at Carroll College in Waukesha in April 1917 when the United States entered World War I. The United States was unprepared for the war, so Williams became one of 300 Americans who took flight instruction with the Royal Canadian Air Force in Toronto. He was then assigned to the 17th "American" Aero Squadron attached to the Royal Air Force. In July and August 1918, Williams piloted a speedy Sopwith Camel fighter in combat over France.
He downed four enemy airplanes and one balloon to qualify as Wisconsin's first combat "ace". Wounded on his last mission, Williams landed safely, but was hospitalized for the rest of the war. He came home to Waukesha, where he helped found the Waukesha Aviation Club and became the first manager of the Waukesha County Airport, but gradually gave up flying. When he passed away in 1972, Wisconsin's first combat ace was known as one of the finest dairy farmers in Jefferson County.