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John Gillespie Magee, Jr.

Pilot Officer John Gillespie Magee, Junior (1922 - 1941) was an American aviator and poet who died fighting in the Battle of Britain while serving in the Royal Canadian Air Force before the United States had officially entered the war. He was born in China of an American father and a British mother who were missionaries. He was killed when the airplane he was flying collided with another in a cloud. He is buried in Scopwick, Lincolnshire. His fame is entirely posthumous, and rests only on his poem High Flight, universally known in the RCAF and widely known elsewhere as well:

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 winds along and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious burning blue
I've topped the wind-swept heights with easy grace
Where never lark or even eagle flew
And, while with silent, lifting mind I've trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.