Portal:United States Air Force/Biography Spotlight/3

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Francis Gabreski color photo in pilot suit.jpg

Francis Stanley "Gabby" Gabreski (born Franciszek Gabryszewski; January 28, 1919 – January 31, 2002) was the top American fighter ace in Europe during World War II, a jet fighter ace in Korea, and commanded numerous fighter squadrons, groups, and wings during his Air Force career.

Assigned as a P-40 pilot with the 45th Fighter Squadron of the 15th Fighter Group at Wheeler Field, Hawaii, 2nd Lt. Gabreski witnessed the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, but did not become airborne in time to engage the attackers.

In March 1943 Gabreski became part of the 56th Fighter Group, flying the P-47 Thunderbolt, and in May was promoted to Major and named commander of the 61st Fighter Squadron, which included six Polish nationals as pilots in 1944. He made his 28th kill on July 5, 1944, passing Eddie Rickenbacker's record from World War I to become America's top ace (although several pilots passed him by the end of the war).

Col. Gabreski flew combat again during the Korean War, as commander of the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing, piloting an F-86 Sabre. He was credited with 6.5 Mig-15 kills, making him one of seven U.S. pilots to be aces in more than one war (the others are Col. Harrison Thyng, Col. James P. Hagerstrom, Major William T. Whisner, Col. Vermont Garrison, Major George A. Davis, Jr., and Lt.Col. John F. Bolt, USMC).

He ended his career as a commander of several tactical and air defense wings, his last assignment being commander of the 52d Fighter Wing at Suffolk County Air Force Base in Westhampton Beach, New York.