Bernard McGrattan was born in Utica, New York. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force at the beginning of World War II, and served in England with the British Royal Air Force as an operational pilot before receiving a commission as a Flight Officer in the U.S. Army Air Forces on May 26, 1943. Lt McGrattan joined the 335th Fighter Squadron of the 4th Fighter Group in England in September 1943, and he was credited with the destruction of 8.5 enemy aircraft in aerial combat before being shot down and killed in action during the D-Day Invasion on June 6, 1944. Bernard McGrattan was buried at the Normandy American Cemetery in Colleville-sur-Mer, France.
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.