TUNNER, Margaret A. (Hamilton)
Margaret Ann Hamilton Tunner, 92, died Oct. 13, 2009, surrounded by family at her home Hockley Farm on the Ware River, Gloucester County, Va., where she and her late husband, Lt. Gen. W. H. Tunner, retired in 1958. Mrs. Tunner was born in Enid, Okla., Sept. 3, 1917, and attended Oklahoma College for Women and Oklahoma University. She became a private pilot through a Civilian Pilot Training Program of Tulsa University and purchased and flew her own J-3 Piper cub prior to joining the Women's Air Force Service Pilots program (WASP). She was the first licensed female pilot in the State of Oklahoma. As a WASP she entered Jacqueline Cochran's second training class in Houston, Texas, and also the Pursuit School, graduating May 28, 1943, at Avenger Field, Sweetwater, Texas. Her class flew AT-6's and AT-17's. Ann was stationed at Romulus Air Force Base, Michigan, with the 3rd Ferrying Group. During WWII she flew the P-47 Thunderbolt P-40 Warhawk, P-39 Bell Air Cobra, the P-63 King Cobra and co-piloted B-17 and B-24 bombers from their factories to ports of embarkation on both coasts. When asked for an example of WASP activity---""I was called to Base Operations at Romulus and instructed to fly a new aircraft to the Canadians near Hudson's Bay---it was a shiny new P-51 Mustang, I had never seen one before---it was beautiful. After a brief cockpit check, I took off, did two touch-and-goes, and was on my way to Hudson's Bay at 350 mph in the dead of winter with my compass and a good road atlas---they did issue me a fur-lined flight suit and boots"". Your favorite aircraft-""probably the P-47, a dream to fly, hard for me to get into the cockpit, but as comfortable as a Cadillac---the most thrilling was the Mustang."" In 1948 Mrs. Tunner went to Japan to serve in the Army of Occupation. Before she left she was photographed walking away from her P-51, parachute pack attached, and this picture appeared on the cover of Collier's Magazine in April 1949; she was quoted in the accompanying article as saying ""if there are going to be storms ahead, it will be our duty to stay on the beam, to keep our sights on preserving basic human rights. If we do that we'll continue to be what I call the best bunch of people under God's blue sky."" She returned to the U.S. in 1951 and married Lt. Gen. William H. Tunner who commanded the Berlin Airlift in 1948. He assumed command of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe and they moved to Wiesvaden, Germany. On retirement in 1958, they moved to Hockley Farm, Ware Neck, Gloucester County, Va., with their daughter Suzanne. They wintered in another home in Antigua and Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. After her husband's death in 1983, Ann continued operating Hockley Farm and raising her beloved sheep. In 1990s as a new hobby, she began flying ultralight aircraft. For her 78th birthday she was granted Presidential permission to co-pilot a F-15 Eagle from Langley AFB, Va. She was honored by the Gloucester VFW this year with a life-time membership and is to receive one of the Congressional medals awarded to the WASPs. She was a member of the Ware Episcopal Church, the Garden Club of Gloucester, and was always active in community activities. She is survived by her daughter, H. Suzanne Tunner Hudson and her son-in-law, David Wood Hudson; her six grandsons, Wood Tunner Hudson, Tucker Boone Hudson, Jesse Hamilton Hudson, Conner Bryant Hudson, William Woodul Tunner, Jonathan Sams Tunner; stepson, William Sams Tunner, M.D., (his mother died in 1948) and his wife, Sallie Woodul Tunner; and two great-grandchildren, William Keesee Tunner and Celia Sams Tunner. A memorial service will be held at Ware Episcopal Church, 7825 John Clayton Memorial Highway, Gloucester, Va., on Oct. 24, 2009, at 2 p.m., and a military service at Arlington National Cemetery on Dec. 11, 2009, at 3 p.m. In memory of Ann, memorial contributions may be made to the Main Street Preservation Trust, P.O. Box 265, Gloucester, VA 23061. Arrangements by Hogg Funeral Home and Crematory, Gloucester Point.