Tom Biel was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, and enlisted in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1942. After being commissioned a 2d Lt and receiving his pilot wings, he completed P-47 Thunderbolt training and was then assigned to the 334th Fighter Squadron of the 4th Fighter Group in England in September 1943. The group switched to the P-51 Mustang in February 1944. Lt Biel was credited with the destruction of 5.333 enemy aircraft in aerial combat, plus 2 damaged, and another 6 aircraft on the ground while strafing enemy airfields, before he was shot down and killed on April 24, 1944, over Worms, Germany.
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.