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82nd TRS 1945
|Pilot 2nd Lt Robert Sidell Huffman, O-827209 (KIA, BR) IN
Crashed March 5, 1945 at 1:45pm
Built by North American Aviation (NAA) in Inglewood. Constructors Number 109-28474. Delivered to the U. S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as P-51D-10-NA Mustang serial number 44-14841. Converted to F-6D photographic reconnaissance version with aluminum finish. Disassembled and shipped overseas to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA) and reassembled.
Assigned to the 5th Air Force, 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Group, 82nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron. Assigned to pilot Captain William A. Shomo with crew chief Ralph Winkle. Squadron Number 66 in black painted on the tail. Nicknamed "Snooks the 5th". On the left side of the cockpit was a scoreboard with Shomo's victory claims painted inside a black rectangle.
During late 1944, this aircraft operated from Pitu Airfield (Pitoe, Moratai) on Morotai Island as part of a detachment. On January 1, 1945, flown to the Philippines via Tacloban Airfield on Leyte, then onward to Hill Field (Hammer) on Mindoro.
On January 11, 1945, took off from Hill Field (Hammer) piloted by Captain William A. Shomo with wingman F-6D Mustang 44-14873 piloted by Lt. Paul Lipscomb on an armed photographic and strafing mission over Tuguegarao Airfield, Aparri Airfield, and Laoag Airfield. Over northern Luzon, the pair sighted a formation of enemy planes flying south at about 2,500' below them. Despite being obviously outnumbered, they immediately pulled an "Immelmann" turn and found themselves behind a force of eleven Ki-61 Tonys and one Ki-44 Tojo escorting a G4M Betty.
Although the odds were 13 against 2, Major Shomo immediately ordered an attack. Accompanied by Lipscomb they closed on the enemy formation in a climbing turn and scored hits on the leading plane of the third element, which exploded in midair. Maj. 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, Maj. Shomo moved to the other side of the formation and hit a third fighter which exploded and fell.
Diving below the G4M Betty, Shomo 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 shot down 3 planes, while the 3 remaining enemy fighters fled into a cloud bank and escaped. Maj. 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 South West Pacific Area. For his actions, Shomo earned the Medal of Honor on April 3, 1945.
On March 5, 1945 took off from Lingayen Airfield on Luzon piloted by 2nd Lt Huffman flying the number four position as wing man for F/O Robert Ross on a mission to bomb and strafe enemy supplies and fuel stored near Cattagoaman (Cattagoaman Nuevo). Weather was CAVU with smoke and haze over the target area. Over the target, the formation started their bomb run diving down from 8,000'. Afterwards, this aircraft did not rejoin the formation. Last seen at approximately 1:45pm one and one half mile southwest of Tuguegarao. When lost, engine V-1650-7 serial number V-325473. Weapon serial numbers listed in Missing Air Crew Report 12924 (MACR 12924).
Medal of Honor
March 5, 1945
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