Shomo, William Arthur, Lt Col

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Last Rank
Lieutenant Colonel
Last Primary AFSC/MOS
AAF MOS 1055-Pilot, Single-Engine Fighter
Last AFSC Group
Pilot (Officer)
Primary Unit
1944-1945, AAF MOS 1055, 82nd Reconnaissance Squadron - Hog Heaven
Service Years
1941 - 1968
Officer Collar Insignia
Lieutenant Colonel

 Last Photo   Personal Details 

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Home State
Year of Birth
This Military Service Page was created/owned by SSgt Robert Bruce McClelland, Jr. to remember Shomo, William Arthur, Lt Col USAF(Ret).

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Contact Info
Home Town
Jeannette, Pennsylvania
Last Address
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Date of Passing
Jun 25, 1990
Location of Interment
Saint Clair Cemetery - Greensburg, Pennsylvania
Wall/Plot Coordinates
Not Specified

 Official Badges 

 Unofficial Badges 

Cold War Medal Air Ace American Fighter Aces Congressional Gold Medal

 Military Association Memberships
American Fighter Aces Association
  1961, American Fighter Aces Association

 Additional Information
Last Known Activity
There are pilots who fly fighters, and there are fighter pilots. Bill Shomo was a fighter pilot, and a frustrated one at that. For 16 months, the 82d Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron to which he was assigned had moved from strip to strip along the north coast of New Guinea and finally to Morotai, some 250 miles northwest of the big island. The squadron was equipped with obsolete P-39s and P-40s, too short-ranged to reach the air-to-air combat action where every true fighter pilot wants to be. The P-38 and P-47 jocks got the glory, while Shomo and his squadron mates supported General MacArthur's drive to the Philippines by photographing and shooting up ground targets--hazardous work, but not very satisfying for a fighter pilot.

As 1944 drew to a close, it looked as though the war would end before Shomo had a chance to test his skill in air-to-air combat. Then, in December, things began to pick up. The squadron learned that it was getting North American P-51Ds equipped for photo-recce work. Shomo had flown two local check-outs in the P-51 and one short mission to test its guns when, on Dec. 24, he was called to group headquarters on Leyte. There he was made commander of the squadron and ordered to move it to Mindoro, an island off the southwest coast of Luzon, to support MacArthur's landing about 75 miles north of Manila, which would take place on Jan. 9, 1945.

A fortnight after Shomo took command of the 82d, it was in place at Mindoro, and on Jan. 9 he led his first P-51 combat mission (which was also only his sixth flight in the Mustang). It was a low-level recce to find out what air strength the Japanese had in northern Luzon. As they approached the Japanese airfield at Tuguegarao, Shomo spotted the first aerial target he had seen while airborne in all his months of combat--a Val dive bomber, turning onto its final landing approach. One burst from his six .50-caliber guns brought it down at a spot Shomo can describe as precisely today as he could on that January day 39 years ago. And with good reason.

Two days later, on Jan. 11, Captain Shomo and his wingman, Lt. Paul Lipscomb, were heading north on the deck to photograph and strafe Japanese airfields at Tuguegarao, Aparri, and Laoag at the extreme north of Luzon. Over the exact spot where Shomo had picked up the Val, they caught a brief glimpse of enemy planes flying south above broken clouds at about 2,500 feet. How many enemy planes? What difference did it make? Shomo and Lipscomb pulled up through the clouds in an Immelmann and rolled out behind a Betty bomber that was being escorted by a squadron of fighters 11 Tonys and one Tojo.

On their first pass through the formation, Shomo and Lipscomb had the advantage of surprise. Shomo shot down four Tonys, then came up under the bomber, putting a burst into its belly. The flaming Betty headed for a crash landing with two Tonys still hanging to its right wing.

Shomo and Lipscomb pulled up in a tight vertical spiral to regain altitude while the Tojo latched onto Shomo's tail, firing until it stalled out and dove into the clouds. The Betty blew up as it bellied in, and the two escorting Tonys headed for the hills, staying on the deck. Shomo made a second diving pass, nailing each Tony with a short burst, for a total of seven victories. In less than six minutes, Bill Shomo had become an ace, the ultimate goal of every fighter pilot. Lipscomb got three-fifths of the way to that goal. The last three enemy fighters then disappeared into the clouds.

On April 1, 1945, William A. Shomo, by then a major, was awarded the Medal of Honor for leading an attack against heavy odds and destroying seven enemy aircraft. No other American pilot scored that many confirmed victories in a single mission.

Other Comments:
His Medal of Honor citation:
Awarded for actions during World War II
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Major (Air Corps), [then Captain] William Arthur Shomo, United States Army Air Forces, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty on 11 January 1945, while serving with the 82d Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, 71st Reconnaissance Group, 308th Bombardment Wing, Fifth Air Force, over Luzon, Philippine Islands. Major Shomo was lead pilot of a flight of two fighter planes charged with an armed photographic and strafing mission against the Aparri and Laoag airdromes. While en route to the objective, he observed an enemy twin engine bomber, protected by 12 fighters, flying about 2,500 feet above him and in the opposite direction Although the odds were thirteen-to-two, Major Shomo immediately ordered an attack. Accompanied by his wingman he closed on the enemy formation in a climbing turn and scored hits on the leading plane of the third element, which exploded in midair. Major Shomo then attacked the second element from the left side of the formation and shot another fighter down in flames. When the enemy formed for Counterattack, Major Shomo moved to the other side of the formation and hit a third fighter which exploded and fell. Diving below the bomber he put a burst into its underside and it crashed and burned. Pulling up from this pass he encountered a fifth plane firing head on and destroyed it. He next dived upon the first element and shot down the lead plane; then diving to 300 feet in pursuit of another fighter he caught it with his initial burst and it crashed in flames. During this action his wingman had shot down three planes, while the three remaining enemy fighters had fled into a cloudbank and escaped. Major Shomo's extraordinary gallantry and intrepidity in attacking such a far superior force and destroying seven enemy aircraft in one action is unparalleled in the southwest Pacific area.

General Orders: War Department, General Orders No. 25 (April 7, 1945), Amended by Department of the Army, General Orders No. 1 (1960)
Action Date: January 11, 1945
Service: Army Air Forces
Rank: Major
Battalion: 82d Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron
Regiment: 71st Reconnaissance Group, 308th Bombardment Wing
Division: 5th Air Force

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82nd Reconnaissance Squadron  - Hog Heaven
  1944-1945, AAF MOS 1055, 82nd Reconnaissance Squadron - Hog Heaven
 Combat and Non-Combat Operations
  1941-1945 World War II
  1944-1944 World War II/Asian-Pacific Theater/Bismarck Archipelago Campaign (1943-44)
  1944-1944 World War II/Asian-Pacific Theater/Air Offensive Campaign Japan (1942-45)
  1944-1944 World War II/Asian-Pacific Theater/New Guinea Campaign (1943-44)
  1944-1945 World War II/Asian-Pacific Theater/Western Pacific Campaign (1944-45)
  1944-1945 World War II/Asian-Pacific Theater/Leyte Campaign (1944-45)
  1944-1945 World War II/Asian-Pacific Theater/Luzon Campaign (1944-45)
  1945-1945 World War II/Asian-Pacific Theater/Ryukyus Campaign (1945)
  1945-1945 World War II/Asian-Pacific Theater/Southern Philippines Campaign (1945)
  1945-1945 World War II/China-India-Burma Theater/China Offensive Campaign (1945)
 Colleges Attended 
Air Command and Staff College
  1948-1948, Air Command and Staff College
 My Aircraft/Missiles
P-39 Airacobra  P-51/F-51 Mustang  EC-121H Warning Star  
  1944-1944, P-39 Airacobra1
  1944-1945, P-51/F-51 Mustang
  1962-1964, EC-121H Warning Star
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