Sam Hynes was born in Chicago on August 29, 1924, and grew up in Minneapolis. He graduated from high school at sixteen, enrolled at the University of Minnesota in the fall of 1942, and at once signed up for the Navy flight program. He was called up in March 1943, and began pilot training in Denton, Texas. A year later he was commissioned as a Marine Second Lieutenant at Pensacola. Soon after, he met Liz Igleheart, the sister of a friend and fellow pilot; they were married in July 1944.
Hynes spent the fall of 1944 in California, training in TBMs, and in January of 1945 shipped out to the Pacific, where he joined Marine Torpedo Bombing Squadron 232 at Ulithi Atoll, in the Western Carolines. In April the squadron moved north to Okinawa, where he flew over a hundred missions, and was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. After the war Hynes finished college, got a PhD in English, and became a teacher and critic of British literature. His memoir of his wartime experiences, Flights of Passage: Recollections of a World War II Aviator, was first published in 1988.