Military Aviation

Clarence Alfred Gilyard Jr., aka LT.(JG) Marcus “Sundown” Williams who briefly served as Maverick’s RIO in Top Gun, passed away

Born on Dec. 24, 1955 Clarence Alfred Gilyard Jr. was best known among The Aviation Geeks, as Top Gun’s Radar Intercept Officer, LT.(JG) Marcus “Sundown” Williams.

Clarence Alfred Gilyard Jr., a reliable character actor-turned-university professor with memorable roles in Die Hard, Matlock and Walker, Texas Ranger, has died. He was 66.

According to Rolling Stone, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas — where Gilyard spent over 15 years working as a film and theater professor — announced Gilyard’s death in a statement shared Monday, Nov. 28. No cause of death was given, though Gilyard had reportedly been suffering from a long illness (per the Las Vegas Review Journal).

Born on Dec. 24, 1955 Gilyard was best known among The Aviation Geeks, as Top Gun’s Radar Intercept Officer, LT.(JG) Marcus “Sundown” Williams.

In the plot of Top Gun, Lieutenant (junior grade) Marcus “Sundown” Williams is a naval flight officer trained on the Grumman F-14 Tomcat and a graduate of TOPGUN. He is LT Charles “Chipper” Piper’s radar intercept officer (RIO).

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. Artwork depicting F-14A NG213 (BuNo 160888) flown by Steve Petro Petrosky and Dave Bio Baranek

Marcus Williams was born in 1955 and later joined the US Navy’s naval aviation wing, joining the elite “Top Gun” school in 1986 under the callsign “Sundown”.

Sundown is first seen at the bar when LT Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and LTJG Nick “Goose” Bradshaw sing to Charlotte “Charlie” Blackwood. He briefly sang solo to Charlie, with adequate talent.

He then briefly served as Maverick’s RIO after the death of Goose in an accident, and he had a falling-out with Mitchell when he was angered at the death of Goose and shook Williams up when Williams was critical of Mitchell’s performance in the air afterwards.

Sundown is last seen at the TOPGUN graduation ceremony speaking to Chipper regarding Maverick’s whereabouts and state of mind.

Photo credit: Paramount

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Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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