Air Force First Lieutenant Edward Field was born in Brooklyn and attended New York University. He served in World War II as a navigator in heavy bombers and flew 27 missions on a B-17 in 1945.
While based in England on his third mission over Berlin, Lt. Field’s plane was damaged by flak. Down to two engines, the bomber headed back to England but ran out of fuel and crash-landed in the North Sea. The crew evacuated to two rubber rafts that broke away, leaving Lt. Field standing on the wing of the stillfloating plane. A strong swimmer, he made it to one of the rafts and clung to its side in the icy water. His fellow airman, Jack Coleman Cook, died by giving up his place in the lifeboat for Field. Eventually, Lt. Field was rescued by an English ship, but Field says that he often thinks about the man who gave his life to save his.
After a period of recovery, and when the War was ended, Lt. Field went to Paris and became a poet. He later moved back to New York City where he lived with his partner, Neil Derrick, for 58 years until Derrick’s recent death.
A prolific and renowned writer, Field has written nine books of poetry, his memoirs, a travel book, and the narration for an Academy Award-winning documentary, To Be Alive (1965).
Lt. Field is the recipient of numerous awards, including the Lamont Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Shelley Memorial Award from the Poetry Society of America, the Prix de Rome from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, and the Lambda Literary Award.