Major William A. Shomo
Pilot, P-39 Airacobra, F-6 Mustang, Medal of Honor
William Arthur Shomo was born May 30, 1918 to parents George Washington Shomo and Bertha May (née Uncapher) in Jeannette, Pennsylvania.
On August 18, 1941 he enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF) as an aviation cadet with serial number 13037968. After completing flight school he earned his wings and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant with serial number O-439677 then overseas to the South West Pacific Area (SWPA).
Assigned to the 5th Air Force (5th AF), 71st Tactical Reconnaissance Group (71st TRG), 82nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (82nd TRS) as a pilot flying the P-39 Airacobra on photographic reconnaissance missions from Dobodura Airfield then moved to Saidor Airfield and Tadji Airfield flying mission s over Japanese targets on the northern coast of New Guinea. During the middle of June 1944 began operating from Borokoe Airfield on Biak.
On September 2, 1944 took off from Borokoe Airfield on Biak piloting a P-40 Warhawk leading a flight of P-39Q 44-3569 (MIA), P-39Q 42-20357 (MIA) and P-39Q 42-20353 on an armed reconnaissance mission. Due to bad weather, the mission was aborted all three Airacobras went missing only Shomo returning as the sole survivor.
On October 1, 1944 moved to Morotai Airfield and began transitioning to the F-6D Mustang, the photographic reconnaissance version of P-51D Mustang. On December 29, 1944 began operating from Hill
Airfield on Mindoro.
On January 10, 1945 Shomo claimed an aerial victory, his first victory claim.
On January 11, 1945 took off from Hill Field (Hammer) piloting F-6D "Snooks 5th" 44-14841 with wingman F-6 44-14873 pilot Lt. Paul Lipscomb on an armed photographic and strafing mission mission over northern Luzon including Tuguegarao Airfield, Aparri Airfield, and Laoag Airfield. From below, the pair sighted a formation of enemy planes flying south at about 2,500'.
Despite being outnumbered, they immediately pulled Immelmann turns and found themselves behind 11 Ki-61 Tonys and 1 Ki-44 Tojo escorting a G4M Betty. Closing and making a climbing turn and fired on the lead plane in the third element causing it to explode. Next, Shomo attacked the second element from the left side and shot another fighter in flames. Afterwards, attacked a third fighter causing it to explode and fall out of formation then attacked the G4M Betty causing it to crash and burn, pulled up and made a head on pass and claimed it as destroyed. Afterwards, dove on a first element and destroyed another fighter, dove down another 300' and fired on another fighter causing it to crash in flames. Meanwhile, wingman Lt. Paul Lipscomb also claimed three other planes shot down with the three remaining enemy fighters fleeing into the clouds and escaping.
Medal of Honor
For his actions on January 11, 1945 Shomo earned the Medal of Honor.
|Medal of Honor Citation
"Maj. Shomo was lead pilot of a flight of 2 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 13 to 2, Maj. 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. 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 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 3 planes, while the 3 remaining enemy fighters had fled into a cloudbank and escaped. Maj. Shomo's extraordinary gallantry and intrepidity in attacking such a far superior force and destroying 7 enemy aircraft in one action is unparalleled in the southwest Pacific area."
By April 1, 1945, promoted to the rank of Major and two days later earned the Medal of Honor. He became the Commanding Officer (C. O.) of the 82nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron (82nd TRS) until June 17, 1945 when succeeded by Captain Harlan White.
Aerial Victory Claims
Shomo was officially credited with eight aerial victories. On January 10, 1945 he claimed his first aerial victory. On January 11, 1945 he claimed seven aerial victories, unparalleled in a single combat and becoming an "ace". Afterwards, he earned the Medal of Honor.
||Notes on claim
||First aerial victory claim.
||Second aerial victory claim (lead plane, third element exploded midair).
||Third aerial victory claim (second element, shot down in flames).
||Fourth aerial victory claim (exploded and fell in flames).
||Fifth aerial victory claim became an "ace" (hit underside caused to crash and burn).
||Sixth aerial victory claim (destroyed during head on pass).
||Seventh aerial victory claim (first element lead plane shot down).
|| Eighth aerial victory claim (hit with burst causing it to crash in flames).
P-39Q "Snooks" 42-20351
Assigned to Shomo. On May 21, 1944 MIA piloted by Harrison over Awar Point.
P-39Q "Snooks 2nd" 42-19995
Abandoned at Tadji Airfield salvaged 1974 on display at Buffalo and Erie County Naval and Serviceman's Park.
Details unknown, possibly a P-39Q Airacobra or P-40 Warhawk.
Details unknown, possibly a P-39Q Airacobra or P-40 Warhawk.
F-6D "Flying Undertaker - Snooks 5th" 44-14841
Piloted by Shomo January 11, 1945 crashed March 5, 1945 piloted by 2nd Lt Robert S. Huffman.
F-6D "The Flying Undertaker" 44-72505
Assigned to Shomo operated from Binmaley Airfield.
Shomo passed away on June 25, 1990 at age 72. He is buried in Greensburg, PA at section D, lot 134.
NARA World War II Army Enlistment Records - William A. Shomo
USAF Historical Study No. 85 USAF Credits For The Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II Alphabetical: Shomo, William A. page 172 (PDF page 179), Alphabetical list by theater of operation (SWP) Shomo, William A.: 01/10/45 1/11/45 (seven) page 364 (PDF page 370)
Congressional Medal of Honor Society - Shomo, William A.
Maj William Arthur Shomo (photo, grave photo)