Samuel Hynes, who died in 2019, flew 78 combat missions over the Pacific in the American Airforce during the Second World War before becoming a writer and professor of literature.
Hynes, who described himself as a ‘Midwestern yokel’, is perhaps best known for his many books analysing the reality of war from the fighter’s perspective. His books, he said, were an attempt to answer the non-combatant’s question: ‘What was it like?’ He described flying as ‘a life, like a sex life, that no normal guy would give up if he didn’t absolutely have to’. Hynes was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature emeritus at Princeton University, and as an academic wrote notably unmartial studies of the poetry of Thomas Hardy and W.H. Auden. He was awarded both the Distinguished Flying Cross and a fellowship of the Royal Society of Literature.