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Colonel Francis S. Gabreski Autographs, Memorabilia & Collectibles

Born: January 28, 1919 in Oil City, Pennsylvania
Died: January 31, 2002 in Huntington, New York
Biography | show moreshow less
Francis S. "Gabby" Gabreski (1919-2002), ranks as the all-time top U.S. Army Air Force ace. He was one of only seven USAF pilots who was an ace in both WWII and the Korean War. Beginning his career flying sorties against the Japanese at Pearl Harbor, the Polish-speaking pilot started to fly Spitfires in January 1943 with the 315 (Polish) Squadron of the RAF. After a few weeks, Gabreski was assigned to Zemke's 56th Fighter Group, flying P-47 Thunderbolts without seeing any action until August 24, 1943, when he scored his first victory. From then on, he downed 28 enemy aircraft, leading all pilots in the European theatre. After 193 missions, the Air Force was ready to send him home but, shortly before boarding the plane, he discovered that a mission was set for that morning. On July 20, 1944, Gabreski crash-landed during a strafing sortie and hid out for five days. Although he persuaded a Polish-speaking forced laborer to bring food and water, Gabreski was captured and imprisoned in Stalag Luft I, a German POW camp for the remaining eight months of the war. He returned to military service in the Korean War and shot down six MIG 15s. He was the recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross, a Silver Star, the Distinguished Flying Cross, a Bronze Star, the Air Medal and awards from the French and Polish governments.

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