William David Halyburton Jr. was born on 2 August 1924 in Canton, North Carolina. The oldest of three boys and it appears that he had a sister who was born May 21, 1931 as given by North Carolina Birth Indexes, 1800-2000. Unfortunately it doesn't list her name just her DOB and location of birth, it also gives the names of her parents (Mae Pless and William Halyburton). The US Census of 1940 gives her name as Jean while the Florida State Census of 1945 gives her name as Margaret.

William graduated from New Hanover High School, NC where he played basketball and was in the ROTC. William was also in the following clubs during his time there: band, debate, chemistry and bible. He briefly attended Davidson College, NC before he enlisted in the U. S. Naval Reserve as an apprentice seaman on 4 August 1943 in Raleigh, North Carolina. One week later, he transferred to the Naval Training Station, Bainbridge, Maryland, where he advanced to seaman second class.