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“Lives of the Aces in Pictures – Part 26: Lt. Thomas Hitchcock, Jr.” by Eugene Frandzen

Link - Posted by David on November 4, 2014 @ 12:00 pm in

Here’s another of Eugene Frandzen’s “Lives of the Aces in Pictures” from the pages of Flying Aces Magazine. The series ran for almost four years with a different Ace featured each month. This week we have the August 1934 installment which pictorialized the life of Lt. Thomas Hitchcock, Jr., Yank flyer!!

Hitchcock, rejected by the American forces due to his age, enlisted with the Lafayette Esquadrille where he was decorated for bringing down two German flyers. Captured in March of 1918 when he fell behind enemy lines while in a tangle with three Boche planes, he managed to escape by jumping from a train near Ulm and walked 80 miles through hostil territory to reach the Swiss border.

Hitchcock was a whiz on the polo field as well as in the air—leading the U.S. team to victory in the 1921 International Polo Cup. He carried a 10-goal handicap from 1922 to 1940 and led four teams to U.S. National Open Championships. In 1990 he was inducted posthumously into the Museum of Polo and Hall of Fame.

It is said that F. Scott Fitzgerald even based two characters on Thomas in two of his novels. He turned all his virtues to vices in The Great Gatsby for the character of Tom Buchanan in 1925 and later used him as inspiration for Tommy Barban in Tender is the Night (1934).

Hitchcock served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II and was assignedas an assistant air attache to the US Embassy in London. In this capacity he was instrumental in the development of the P-51 Mustang fighter plane. Sadly he lost his life while test piloting the plane near Salisbury, Wiltshire, England in 1944. He was 44.

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