Henry J.D. Meyer was born in New York City in 1899 and entered the U.S. Military Academy in 1916, and he was commissioned as a 2nd LT, Field Artillery on November 1, 1918. After a deployment to Europe, he attended Field Artillery School at Fort Lewis, Washington, and then he was transferred to Hawaii for three years.
In 1925, he joined the faculty at the U.S. Military Academy. After teaching for four years, Meyer was assigned to the 10th field Artillery. In 1935 he was assigned to the 18th Field Artillery at Fort Sill.
By 1942, he had risen to the rank of Colonel and was the Executive Officer of the 17th Field Artillery Brigade, serving with them throughout the Tunisian Campaign. In 1944 he was transferred from the 17th FA to lead the 45th Infantry Division Artillery at Anzio, where he participated in the breakout that led to the capture of Rome. He received his promotion to Brigadier General on September 6, 1944, and assumed command of the 45th Infantry Division after the war in Europe had ended, serving as commander from October 26 to December 7, 1945.
In his farewell address to the Thunderbirds, Meyer said, “Whatever destiny may hold in store for our great country, and however long that country’s military history may continue, readers in the future will search long before finding a chapter more brilliant than that written by the quill that was dipped in the blood of the Thunderbirds.”