Bill Beyer was born on July 5, 1923, in Danville, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces on January 21, 1942, and attended glider training before entering the Aviation Cadet Program in January 1943. Beyer was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings at Napier Field, Alabama, on November 3, 1943, and after completing P-47 Thunderbolt training, he was assigned to the 376th Fighter Squadron of the 361st Fighter Group in April 1944. The group switched to the P-51 Mustang in May 1944. Capt Beyer was credited with destroying 9 enemy aircraft in aerial combat between September and November 1944, the first of which was against the German 75-victory ace Maj Klaus Mietusch on September 17, 1944. He returned to the U.S. in May 1945, and left active duty in November 1945.
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.