Punchy Powell was born on November 21, 1920, in Wilcoe, West Virginia. He enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Forces on March 23, 1942, and was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings at Luke Field, Arizona, on January 4, 1943. After completing transition training in the P-47 Thunderbolt, Lt Powell went to Europe in April 1943, and joined the 328th Fighter Squadron of the 352nd Fighter Group in August 1943. He flew 83 combat missions and was credited with sharing in the destruction of 2 enemy aircraft in aerial combat plus 3 damaged, and destroying 3.5 enemy aircraft on the ground plus 2 probables while strafing enemy airfields, before returning to the United States in December 1944. Capt Powell was next assigned to the Flight Test Division at Wright Field, Ohio, from February 1945 until he left active duty in August 1945. He remained in the Air Force Reserve after the war, and was recalled to active duty on January 2, 1950. Powell was assigned to Wright-Patterson AFB from January to May 1950, and then to Nellis AFB, Nevada, until June 1950, when he was recalled back to Wright-Patterson. He attended Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, before serving as an instructor with the Air Force ROTC detachment at Grove City College from 1952 until he resigned his commission in September 1954. Punchy Powell Flew West on June 22, 2016, after making 95 successful trips around the sun.
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.