by Dan Hechler
I was given an Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) jacket worn by Anthony (Tony) F. Story.
During World War II, Tony was a ferry pilot with the Royal Air Force before he transferred to the American Army Air Corps. Assigned to the “Brass Hat Squadron”(503rd AAFBU, he was based at the Washington National Airport and flew senior government officials, diplomats, military leaders, and other notables to destinations in the United States and throughout the world. He accrued more than 7,000 hours of flying time. His awards included the Silver Star, Legion of Merit and Distinguished Flying Cross.
Following WWII he was Douglas MacArthur’s personal pilot. In fact, he was the pilot who flew Mac to his firing by President Truman! When General MacArthur returned his plane (a Constellation called the Bataan) to the Pentagon in May 1951, he expressed gratitude for “a great plane, a great crew, a great pilot.”
Tony, as those close to him called him, was born and educated in Troy, MO. As a young man, he and friends taught each other to fly at a small airfield where they did maintenance on light planes. He became a wing walker on stunt planes at Midwest county fairs. In fact, my father remembers Tony buzzing the town in the planes he was flying and dropping a little parcels to his mother out of the plane on a little parachute. He learned navigation in a school adjoining an Army Air Corps station in Homestead, Fla.
After the Korean War, Tony lived in New York City. He would frequently come home to visit his mother and aunt. It was during one of those occasions when I met him. My father asked Tony if he had anything from his military service that he would give to me. Tony returned in about 30 minutes with this jacket
Before she passed, his mother also gave me the headphones he used. I was able to acquire his matching cap at the family’s auction after his mother died.