Stony was born in Clarksburg, West Virginia, the birthplace of Thomas “Stonewall” Jackson. Unknowingly preparing for life in the Army, Stony moved several times as a child ultimately landing in Rochester, NY where he graduated in 1965 from East High School where his counselor, COL (R) Julius Stanton, USMA 1935, encouraged him to apply to USMA. While attending Bucknell University for a year, he learned how to jump out perfectly good airplanes as a skydiver, guided by a fellow student who had been in the 82nd Airborne Division.
Stony was offered entry to US Air Force Academy for about one month, before receiving a letter from the Secretary of the Air Force that the acceptance was rescinded because he did not have 20-20 vision. He felt this was somewhat strange because he had worn his glasses throughout the entire testing process. He was later nominated by Congressman Frank Horton and accepted into the USMA Class of 1971.