Paul Lorence was born on February 17, 1955, in Oakland, California. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on August 4, 1972, and served as an ICBM maintenance technician until leaving active duty and going into the Air Force Reserve on June 15, 1976. After completing his bachelor's degree at San Francisco State University, he attended Officer Training School and was commissioned a 2d Lt in the Air Force on May 21, 1980. Lt Lorence next completed Undergraduate Navigator Training and was awarded his navigator wings at Mather AFB, California, in May 1981, followed by service as an F-111 Aardvark Weapon Systems Officer with the 495th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing at RAF Lakenheath, England, from June 1981 until he was killed in action during a strike on Libya during Operation El Dorado Canyon on April 15, 1986. His remains have never been returned.
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.