Stillman Harding was raised on a farm in Willard, Utah and graduated from Box Elder High School. In 1942, Stillman was trained on B-17s and B-24s. Based in southern Italy, they flew missions into Germany, Romania, Austria and Southern France. On a mission over Austria to bomb a factory producing German fighters, the bombers encountered heavy flak. A nearby burst penetrated the aircraft and left Lieutenant Harding without a thumb and with a severe leg wound.