Enlisting in the Army Air Corps (U.S. Air Force) on November 12, 1941, during WWII, he was assigned as a gunner for the B-24 Liberator Unit, and, was sent to the Pacific.
In April 1943, during the Battle of Funafuti, over Nauru, his plane, the "Superman" had taken heavy fire, and Staff Sergeant Stanley Pillsbury had received a severe injury to his leg from enemy rounds and still managed to shoot down an enemy plane while being bandaged. The Superman was able to land (never to fly again) and Staff Sergeant Pillsbury, due to his injuries, retired from the war.
He returned to Maine and was able to provide author Laura Hillenbrand a detailed account of his time in the service, which she used for her book "Unbroken".
Staff Sergeant Pillsbury died on July 8, 2008, and rests in the National Memorial Cemetery of Arizona.