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First Name: William

Last Name: Momyer

Birthplace: Muskogee, OK, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Middle Name: Wallace

Date of Birth: 23 September 1916

Date of Death: 10 August 2012

Rank: General

Years Served: 1938-1973
William Wallace Momyer

•  World War II (1941 - 1945)
•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)
•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


William Wallace "Spike" Momyer
General, U.S. Air Force

William Wallace Momyer was born on 23 September 1916 in Muskogee, OK. He attended Broadway High School in Seattle, WA, and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree from the University of Washington in 1937.

Military Career

Momyer entered the U.S. Army Air Corps in 1938, and after successfully completing Primary Pilot Training, attended Pursuit School at Kelly Field, TX, graduating in 1939. He was assigned to pilot and flight commander duties until February 1941, when he became Military Observer for Air with the Military Attaché in Cairo, Egypt. In this capacity, he was Technical Advisor to the Royal Air Force in equipping the first squadron of the Western Desert Air Force with Curtiss P-40 aircraft.

Service in World War II

In October 1942 Momyer, as Commanding Officer, led the 33rd Fighter Group in flying combat missions in the Tunisia, Sicily and Naples-Foggia campaigns. For his performance during several combat actions of the North African campaign, he received the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Star with two oak leaf clusters. In North Africa, he single-handedly engaged 18 Junkers Ju-87 aircraft escorted by German and Italian fighters and had four confirmed kills. He has more than 200 combat flying hours and became an ace with eight credited aerial victories.

In the process, then-Colonel Momyer ignored cautions from his superiors, Generals Jimmy Doolittle and Howard Craig, and committed small forces to battle far from base, in areas where the Luftwaffe had overwhelming air superiority. It took only a month for the 33rd Fighter Group to be knocked out of combat by their losses. The 33rd had to be reconstituted with replacement pilots and airplanes before it could return to action.

Coincidentally, Momyer accused one of his group's units, the 99th Fighter Squadron, as being a failure because its pilots were incompetent and cowardly. Ignoring both their winning of a Distinguished Unit Citation and the fact he personally had ordered them into a ground attack role, he blamed them for seeing little air-to-air combat. He stated, "It is my opinion...they have failed to display...aggressiveness and daring for combat...It may be expected that we will get less work and less operational time out of the 99th FS than any squadron in this group." A hearing before the House Armed Services Committee refuted Momyer's accusations. This first squadron of the Tuskegee Airmen thus survived despite his recommendation, and became the nucleus of the all-African-American 332nd Fighter Group.

Momyer returned to the U.S. in 1944 and became Chief of the Combined Operations of the Army Air Forces Board. As a member, he played a significant role in the development of Air Force doctrine for air-ground operations.

Post-World War II and Korea

He became Assistant Chief of Staff, A-5, for Tactical Air Command in 1946 during the formation of Tactical Air Command headquarters, and continued serving with TAC until he entered the Air War College in 1949.

Upon graduation from the Air War College in 1950, he became a member of the faculty. He attended the U.S. Army War College in 1953-54 and then went to Korea where he Commanded the 8th Fighter-Bomber Wing. With the redeployment of units from Korea to Japan, the 8th Fighter-Bomber Wing moved to Itazuke Air Base.

Post-Korean Service

In March 1955, Momyer returned to Korea to establish the 314th Air Division and Command all U.S. Air Force units in Korea. Returning from Korea in October 1955, he assumed Command of the 312th Fighter-Bomber Wing, Clovis Air Force Base, NM, (subsequently re-named Cannon Air Force Base).

He assumed Command of the 832nd Air Division, Cannon Air Force Base, in May 1957. As commander of the two F-100D Super Sabre fighter wings, he had the distinction of commanding the first units to take top honors for both conventional and special weapons teams during the U.S. Air Force Fighter Weapons Meet at Nellis Air Force Base, NV.

Momyer was Director of Plans, Headquarters TAC, Langley Air Force Base, VA, from July 1958 to October 1961. He was assigned to Headquarters U.S. Air Force from October 1961 to February 1964 as Director of Operational Requirements, and during the period of February-August 1964, as Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff, Programs and Requirements.

Vietnam Era Service

In August 1964, Momyer became Commander of the Air Training Command and held that post until July 1966, when he went to Vietnam to serve as Deputy Commander for Air Operations, Military Assistance Command, Vietnam (MACV), and also, Commander, Seventh Air Force.

On 13 December 1967, Momyer was promoted to the four-star rank of General. He served in this important dual role until August 1968, at which time he assumed Command of Tactical Air Command.

It was during this time, according to the autobiography by Brigadier General Chuck Yeager, that the then-Colonel Yeager had a serious run-in with Momyer. Yeager's career was saved when he was promoted to Brigadier General - apparently over Momyer's objections. It is inferred by Yeager's book that Momyer had highly prejudiced views, which contrasted greatly with his tactical expertise.

Momyer retired from the Air Force on 30 September 1973.

Medals and Awards

Distinguished Service Cross Air Force Distinguished Service Medal with Bronze Oak Leaf Cluster
Silver Star Medal with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Legion of Merit with 2 Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters
Distinguished Flying Cross
Command Pilot Badge

Momyer was also awarded the French Chevalier de la Legion d'Honneur and the British Distinguished Flying Cross.

Momyer was rated as a Command Pilot with more than 4,000 flying hours.

Distinguished Service Cross Citation

The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Distinguished Service Cross to Colonel (Air Corps) William Wallace Momyer (ASN: 0-22862/FR-1964), United States Army Air Forces, for extraordinary heroism in connection with military operations against an armed enemy while serving as Pilot of a P-40 Fighter Airplane in the 33d Fighter Group, TWELFTH Air Force, in aerial combat against enemy forces on 31 March 1943 near ***, Tunisia. While returning from a successful bombing and strafing of a concentration of enemy troops threatening the position of our ground troops near ***, Colonel Momyer led his flight in intercepting twelve ME-109's. Two enemy craft were destroyed and one damaged in this encounter. The flight became scattered and as he emerged with but one wingman he noted eighteen JU-87's, escorted by three ME-109's preparing to attack our ground positions. Realizing their mission, he instantly turned to attack. His wingman's plane was damaged and the pilot wounded by the first burst of enemy fire. Then, with utter disregard to his personal safety and the odds against him, Colonel Momyer attacked the formation single-handed, destroyed four and damaged seven. A friendly high-cover flight counted seven burning planes on the ground. He continued to press his attack until fuel ran low and then was forced to return to his base through a concentration of anti-aircraft fire. His outstanding skill as combat pilot, his courage and devotion to duty in the face of extreme danger, reflects great credit upon himself and the military service of the United States.

Headquarters, U.S. Army-North African Theater of Operations, General Orders No. 43 (June 26, 1943)

Death and Burial

General William Wallace Momyer died of heart failure on 10 August 2012 at Selah Senior Care - Cedar Creek, an assisted-living center in Merritt Island, FL. He was 95. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, VA.

He was preceded in death by his wife, Marguerite C. Momyer, on 19 October 2004 and they are buried together at Arlington National Cemetery.

Honoree ID: 794   Created by: MHOH




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