By Sheri Webber
The response on social media was immediate. Hundreds of comments and shares followed the June 13 post by @USNavyBlueAngels congratulating Commander William “Bill” Schomer (‘06) on his selection as the Blue Angels 2019 Executive Officer.
The Jacksonville University (JU) alumnus, a native of Ohio, graduated from Admiral King High School and enlisted in the Navy in 1988. Since then he has embarked on an impressive and exciting journey that twice landed him in Blue Angels territory.
He served in the airframes and paint shops of the Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, better known as The Blue Angels, while an enlisted member in the late 90’s. Schomer says he always wanted to return as an officer. “I applied for the team when I left JU in 2006, but wasn’t selected at that time.”
But that didn’t stop him.
During his enlisted career, he served with the “Valions” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 15, completing three deployments aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71).
After his first round of serving with the iconic flight squadron, Schomer was accepted to the Navy’s Seaman-to-Admiral commissioning program, completed Officer Candidate School in 1997, and then received his commission as a Naval Officer. From there, he reported to Naval Aviation Schools Command for Naval Flight Officer training and by 1998 had earned his Wings of Gold.
As an Officer, Schomer completed multiple sea and ashore assignments with the “Lancers” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 131, the “Vikings” of VAQ-129, and deployments aboard the USS Constellation (CV 64), the “Gray Wolves” of VAQ-142, and the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). Across his 30-year military career, Schomer has logged more than 1,800 flight hours in military aircraft, completed more than 180 combat sorties, and accumulated nearly 800 combat hours, including his support of OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM.
One significant moment he says made him incredibly proud to serve his country was flying in the EA-6B Prowler during an Operation Iraqi Freedom combat mission in 2009. “My crew and I were supporting ground operations at that time when the U.S. Army found a roadside bomb they needed to disarm. We were able to provide ground crews with the support they needed to accomplish their mission safely.”
A One-of-a-Kind Program, on the Ground or in the Air
And he holds a commercial pilot’s license in single-engine, multi-engine and instrument ratings, and flight instructor certification as a result of time spent in JU’s School of Aviation. “JU got my attention as an option due to their aviation program. Once I visited the campus and talked to some retired Naval Aviators who were professors, I was convinced JU was the school for me.”
“I felt like part of the JU family before I ever took my first class.”
Among the many positive memories he has of his time spent at the University, he says that going solo in an aircraft for the first time was at the top of the list. “You never forget it–by far my favorite moment. I was also happy to watch how much the campus grew during my years as a student.” He names CAPT USN (Ret) Jeff “Sundance” Harrison as his “hands-down most trusted advisor” and one of his aviation professors. “The faculty gave me the guidance to succeed, as well as friendship and comradery. I felt like part of the JU family before I ever took my first class and that was due to the staff being so welcoming and supportive.”
“One key thing I have noticed everywhere I have been stationed was the trust, respect, and teamwork in each organization,” Schomer said, and JU was no different. To JU Aviation students today, he says, “Don’t underestimate the value of the skillset you’re being taught. Stay humble and help your classmates when you can. You’re getting a great education and that’s something that should really make you proud. Take what you’ve learned, apply it, and always remember where you started.”
Schomer relieved Commander Matt Kaslik as the Blue Angels’ Executive Officer (EO) for the team’s 2019 season. As EO, Schomer assists the Commanding Officer in carrying out the mission of the squadron, including coordinating and supervising the performance and administration of the command as a whole. “I’ll be responsible for addressing matters pertaining to the morale, discipline, training, welfare, work, exercises, safety, rights, and privileges of individuals within the command.”
“The energy and excitement in Jacksonville made me proud to serve and to be a representative of our Navy and Marine Corps, and my alma mater, Jacksonville University.”
He returned to Jacksonville Oct. 27 for the NAS JAX Air Show. “It’s a busy and exciting week for the team leading up to the air show, and it’s impressive to see how everyone on the team works together to make our part of the show happen. NAS Jacksonville did a great job and we couldn’t have asked for a more enthusiastic audience,” he said.
The Blue Angels also took the opportunity to visit local hospitals and schools, including JU NROTC. “The energy and excitement in Jacksonville that weekend made me proud to serve and to be a representative of our Navy and Marine Corp, and my alma mater, Jacksonville University.”
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