Neil Bynum was born on June 29, 1943, in Vian, Oklahoma. He was commissioned a 2d Lt in the U.S. Air Force through the Air Force ROTC program at Oklahoma State University on January 25, 1967, and went on active duty beginning on March 23, 1967. Lt Bynum next completed Undergraduate Pilot Training and was awarded his pilot wings at Vance AFB, Oklahoma, in March 1968, followed by Pilot Systems Operator training and F-4 Phantom II Combat Crew Training at MacDill AFB, Florida, from June 1968 to January 1969. His first assignment was as an F-4D pilot systems operator with the 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing at Ubon Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, from February 1969 until he was killed in action over Laos on October 26, 1969, although he was officially listed as Missing in Action until being administratively declared dead on May 13, 1976. His remains were never recovered. He has a cenotaph at the Garden of Memories Cemetery in Vian, Oklahoma.
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.