Charles Leighton was born on May 22, 1919, in Anderson, Indiana, and grew up in East Lansing and Flint, Michigan. After studying chemistry at Ohio Wesleyan University, he enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Forces for Navigator Training on January 20, 1942, and was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his Navigator Wings on July 4, 1942. He then completed B-17 Flying Fortress training before serving with the 324th Bomb Squadron of the 91st Bomb Group in England from October 1942 to May 1943, during which time he completed his tour as Navigator aboard the B-17 "Memphis Belle". He and the crew next completed a war bond tour across the United States with the famous B-17 from June to September 1943. After the war bond tour, Capt Leighton served at Lockbourne Army Air Field, Ohio, and then with the 2132nd Army Air Force Base Unit at Maxwell Field, Alabama, where he received an honorable discharge on November 27, 1945. After leaving active duty, Charles completed his degree and worked as a school teacher and guidance counselor. Charles Leighton died on April 22, 1991.
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I've climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds - and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of - wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov'ring there
I've chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I've topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew -
And, while with silent lifting mind I've trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.