Hank Miklajcyk was born on February 24, 1921, in Syracuse, New York. He was a commercial flying instructor before enlisting in the Aviation Cadet Program of the U.S. Army Air Forces on January 18, 1942. Miklajcyk was commissioned a 2d Lt and awarded his pilot wings at Craig Field, Alabama, on November 10, 1942, and was assigned to the 21st Fighter Squadron (later redesignated the 486th Fighter Squadron) of the 352nd Fighter Group at Westover Field, Massachusetts, in December 1942. He deployed with the group to England in July 1943, first flying the P-47 Thunderbolt and later switching to the P-51 Mustang. Capt Miklajcyk was credited with the destruction of 7.5 enemy aircraft in aerial combat, plus 6 more on the ground while strafing enemy airfields, before he was killed in action on November 2, 1944.
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.