William Shomo enlisted as an aviation cadet in August 1941. He learned to fly at Tulsa, Okla., and Randolph and Brooks Fields, Texas, and got his commission and wings in March 1942. He spent two years at pilot at Louisiana, Ga., and Texas bases until going to the Pacific in June 1944, for duty with the 82nd Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron.
On Jan. 11. 1945, then-Captain Shomo, took off in his P-51 Mustang fighter from Mindoro in the Philippines to see if Japanese airdromes in the northern part of Luzon were occupied. Second Lt. Paul M. Lipscomb flew as his wingman. The Japanese didn't know it then, but a licensed embalmer was out looking for business, and seven enemy planes were shot from the skies by his guns before the mission ended.
Gen. Kenney, promptly promoted Shomo to major and recommended him for the Medal of Honor, which was approved. The citation tells what happened, as follows: "While en route to the airdromes, Captain Shomo 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 two, Captain Shomo immediately ordered an attack. Accompanied by Lieutenant Lipscomb, 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. 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, 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 Lieutenant Lipscomb had shot down three planes, while the three remaining enemy fighters had fled into a cloud bank and escaped. Captain 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."
While flying 203 combat missions in the Philippines, Major Shomo got one more kill in the air and was credited with destroying six fighters and 13 bombers on the ground, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross and five Air Medals as well as the nation's highest award. Major Shomo returned to the United States in October 1945, and went off active duty May 18, 1946.
He served with the Pennsylvania State National Guard for a year and came back on active duty in July 1947. He was assigned to Headquarters Strategic Air Command at Andrews AFB, Md., attended the Air Command and Staff School at Maxwell AFB, Ala., and for two years, held many assignments including Deputy Director of Operations at Selfridge AFB, Mich.
He was promoted to lieutenant colonel on Feb. 20, 1951. He then went to Colorado and served in operations and training assignments for a year. In March 1952, he became Executive, Commander and Administrative Officer for the 175th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Rapid City AFB, S.D. He directed Combat Operations. at HQ. 31st Air Division, St. Paul, Minn., for about a year, then became commander of the 14th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Sioux City, Iowa He commanded a similar squadron, the 59th, at Goose Bay, Labrador, in January 1955, and that June led the squadron to victory in the Northeast Air Command Rocket Meet. Colonel Shomo next became Commander of Headquarters 473rd Air Defense Group and in July 1957, took over the 54th Fighter Group at Greater Pittsburgh Airport. In Jan. 1958, he became Executive Officer for HQ 79th Fighter Group, Youngstown Municipal Airport, Ohio. His last assignment was Thule, Greenland, with the 4683rd Air Defense Wing.
See the full citation from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society page.