Bill Masoner was born on September 5, 1917, in Chicago, Illinois. He was commissioned through the Navy ROTC program at Northwestern University on May 2, 1939, and entered the Navy V-5 Flight Training Program on November 14, 1941. Ensign Masoner was designated a Naval Aviator on July 13, 1942, and after completing fighter and carrier training, he served with VF-11 in the Pacific from February to August 1943, during which time he was credited with his first air victory. Lt Masoner served with VF-19 from September 1943 to December 1944, and was credited with an additional 11 enemy aircraft destroyed in aerial combat plus 4 more damaged, for a total of 12 destroyed in World War II. After returning to the U.S. in December 1944, he served at NAS Sanford, Florida, until leaving active duty on October 20, 1945. LCDR Masoner served in the U.S. Naval Reserve from October 21, 1945, until his retirement on October 1, 1954. He died on April 28, 1986.
His Navy Cross Citation reads:
For extraordinary heroism as Pilot of a Fighter Plane in Fighting Squadron NINETEEN, attached to the U.S.S. LEXINGTON, in action against enemy Japanese forces during the Battle for Leyte Gulf, October 24, 1944. Intercepting several groups of enemy planes while leading his division in a long-range search for hostile craft, Lieutenant Masoner skillfully directed his planes in a determined onslaught and sent thirteen of the opposing aircraft flaming from the sky, personally accounting for six and sustaining no loss to his own formation. By his brilliant airmanship, indomitable courage and inspiring leadership Lieutenant Masoner contributed materially to the infliction of overwhelming damage upon the Japanese forces during this Battle. His dauntless fighting spirit and unwavering devotion to duty reflect the highest credit upon himself and the United States Naval Service.