Ralph Halbrook (later renamed Hofer) was born on June 22, 1921, in Salem, Missouri. He joined the Royal Canadian Air Force on July 19, 1941, went to England in October 1942, and later joined No. 286 Squadron. Hofer transferred to the U.S. Army Air Forces as a Flight Officer on June 11, 1943, and was assigned to the 334th Fighter Squadron of the 4th Fighter Group. He was commissioned a 2d Lt on April 22, 1944, and was killed in action over Mostar, Yugoslavia, on July 2, 1944. Before his death, Lt Hofer was credited with destroying 15 enemy aircraft in aerial combat plus 2 damaged, and 14 more on the ground while strafing enemy airfields, while flying P-47 Thunderbolt and P-51 Mustang fighters. Ralph Hofer is buried at the Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in Saint Louis, Missouri.
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.