Francis Stanley Gabreski
|Born||January 28, 1919|
Oil City, Pennsylvania, U.S.
|Died||January 31, 2002 83) (aged|
Huntington, New York, U.S.
|Years of service||1940–1967|
|Unit|| 15th Pursuit Group |
No. 315 Polish Fighter Squadron
56th Fighter Group
4th Fighter-Interceptor Group
51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing
|Commands held|| 61st Fighter Squadron |
55th Fighter Squadron
56th Fighter Group
51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing
354th Tactical Fighter Wing
18th Tactical Fighter Wing
52nd Fighter Wing
|Battles/wars|| World War II |
|Awards|| Distinguished Service Cross |
Army Distinguished Service Medal
Silver Star (2)
Legion of Merit
Distinguished Flying Cross (13)
Bronze Star Medal
Air Medal (7)
|Other work||Long Island Rail Road (president)|
Francis Stanley "Gabby" Gabreski (born Franciszek Stanisław Gabryszewski; January 28, 1919 – January 31, 2002) was a Polish-American career pilot in the United States Air Force, retiring as a colonel with 26 years of military service. He was the top American and United States Army Air Forces fighter ace over Europe in World War II and a jet fighter ace with the Air Force in the Korean War.
The United States Air Force (USAF) is the aerial and space warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces. It is one of the five branches of the United States Armed Forces, and one of the seven American uniformed services. Initially formed as a part of the United States Army on 1 August 1907, the USAF was established as a separate branch of the U.S. Armed Forces on 18 September 1947 with the passing of the National Security Act of 1947. It is the youngest branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, and the fourth in order of precedence. The USAF is the largest and most technologically advanced air force in the world. The Air Force articulates its core missions as air and space superiority, global integrated intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, rapid global mobility, global strike, and command and control.
The United States Army Air Forces, informally known as the Air Force, was the aerial warfare service of the United States during and immediately after World War II (1939/41–1945), successor to the previous United States Army Air Corps and the direct predecessor of the United States Air Force of today, one of the five uniformed military services. The AAF was a component of the United States Army, which in 1942 was divided functionally by executive order into three autonomous forces: the Army Ground Forces, the Services of Supply, and the Army Air Forces. Each of these forces had a commanding general who reported directly to the Army Chief of Staff.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
Although best known for his credited destruction of 34½ aircraft in aerial combat and being one of only seven U.S. combat pilots to become an ace in two wars, Gabreski was also one of the Air Force's most accomplished leaders. In addition to commanding two fighter squadrons, he had six command tours at group or wing level, including one in combat in Korea, totaling over 11 years of command and 15 overall in operational fighter assignments.
After his Air Force career, Gabreski headed the Long Island Rail Road, a commuter railroad owned by the State of New York, and struggled in his attempts to improve its service and financial condition. After two and a half years, he resigned under pressure and went into full retirement.
The Long Island Rail Road, often abbreviated as the LIRR, is a commuter rail system in the southeastern part of the U.S. state of New York, stretching from Manhattan to the eastern tip of Suffolk County on Long Island. With an average weekday ridership of 354,800 passengers in 2016, it is the busiest commuter railroad in North America. It is also one of the world's few commuter systems that runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, year-round. It is publicly owned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which refers to it as MTA Long Island Rail Road.
Gabreski's official Air Force biography states:
Gabreski's parents had emigrated from Poland to Oil City, Pennsylvania, in the early 1900s. His father (Stanisław "Stanley" Gabryszewski) owned and operated a market, putting in 12-hour days. As in many other immigrant-owned businesses in those days, the whole family worked at the market. But Gabreski's parents had dreams for him, including attending the Notre Dame University. He did so in 1938, but, unprepared for real academic work, almost failed during his freshman year.
Poland, officially the Republic of Poland, is a country located in Central Europe. It is divided into 16 administrative subdivisions, covering an area of 312,696 square kilometres (120,733 sq mi), and has a largely temperate seasonal climate. With a population of approximately 38.5 million people, Poland is the sixth most populous member state of the European Union. Poland's capital and largest metropolis is Warsaw. Other major cities include Kraków, Łódź, Wrocław, Poznań, Gdańsk, and Szczecin.
Oil City is a city in Venango County, Pennsylvania, that is known in the initial exploration and development of the petroleum industry. Initial settlement of the town was sporadic, and tied to the iron industry. After the first oil wells were drilled in 1861, Oil City became central in the petroleum industry while hosting headquarters for the Pennzoil, Quaker State, and Wolf's Head motor oil companies. Tourism plays a prominent role in the region by promoting oil heritage sites, nature trails, and Victorian architecture. The population was 10,557 at the 2010 census, and is the principal city of the Oil City, PA Micropolitan Statistical Area.
The University of Notre Dame du Lac is a private, non-profit Catholic research university in Notre Dame, Indiana. The main campus covers 1,261 acres (510 ha) in a suburban setting and it contains a number of recognizable landmarks, such as the Golden Dome, the Word of Life mural, the Notre Dame Stadium, and the Basilica. The school was founded on November 26, 1842, by Father Edward Sorin, CSC, who was also its first president.
During his first year at Notre Dame, Gabreski developed an interest in flying. He took lessons in a Taylor Cub and accumulated six hours of flight time. However, his autobiography indicates, he struggled to fly smoothly and did not fly solo, having been advised by his instructor Homer Stockert that he did not "have the touch to be a pilot".
The Taylor Cub was originally designed by C. Gilbert Taylor as a small, light and simple utility aircraft, evolved from the Arrowing Chummy. It is the forefather of the popular Piper J-3 Cub, and total production of the Cub series was 23,512 aircraft.
At the start of his second year at Notre Dame, Gabreski enlisted in the United States Army Air Corps, volunteering as an aviation cadet. After his induction into the U.S. Army at Pittsburgh, he undertook primary flight training at Parks Air College, near East St. Louis, Illinois, flying the Stearman PT-17. Gabreski was a mediocre trainee and was forced to pass an elimination check ride during primary to continue training.
The United States Army Air Corps (USAAC) was the aerial warfare service of the United States of America between 1926 and 1941. After World War I, as early aviation became an increasingly important part of modern warfare, a philosophical rift developed between more traditional ground-based army personnel and those who felt that aircraft were being underutilized and that air operations were being stifled for political reasons unrelated to their effectiveness. The USAAC was renamed from the earlier United States Army Air Service on 2 July 1926, and was part of the larger United States Army. The Air Corps became the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) on 20 June 1941, giving it greater autonomy from the Army's middle-level command structure. During World War II, although not an administrative echelon, the Air Corps (AC) remained as one of the combat arms of the Army until 1947, when it was legally abolished by legislation establishing the Department of the Air Force.
Pittsburgh is a city in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania in the United States, and is the county seat of Allegheny County. As of 2017, a population of 305,704 lives within the city limits, making it the 63rd-largest city in the U.S. The metropolitan population of 2,353,045 is the largest in both the Ohio Valley and Appalachia, the second-largest in Pennsylvania, and the 26th-largest in the U.S.
Parks College of Engineering, Aviation and Technology is a college within Saint Louis University.
He advanced to basic flight training at Gunter Army Air Base, Alabama, in the Vultee BT-13 and completed advanced training at Maxwell Field, Alabama, in the North American AT-6 Texan. Gabreski earned his wings and his commission as a second lieutenant in the Air Corps in March 1941, then sailed for Hawaii aboard the SS Washington to his first assignment.
Alabama is a state in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama is the 30th largest by area and the 24th-most populous of the U.S. states. With a total of 1,500 miles (2,400 km) of inland waterways, Alabama has among the most of any state.
Maxwell Air Force Base, officially known as Maxwell-Gunter Air Force Base, is a United States Air Force (USAF) installation under the Air Education and Training Command (AETC). The installation is located in Montgomery, Alabama, US. Occupying the site of the first Wright Flying School, it was named in honor of Second Lieutenant William C. Maxwell, a native of Atmore, Alabama.
SS Washington was a 24,189-ton luxury liner of the United States Lines, named after the US capital city.
Assigned as a fighter pilot with the 45th Pursuit Squadron of the 15th Pursuit Group at Wheeler Army Airfield, Hawaii, 2nd Lt. Gabreski trained on both the Curtiss P-36 Hawk and the newer Curtiss P-40 Warhawk. He met his future wife, Catherine "Kay" Cochran, in Hawaii and became engaged shortly after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. During that action, Gabreski joined several members of his squadron in flying P-36 fighters in an attempt to intercept the attackers, but the Japanese had withdrawn. During the spring and summer of 1942, Gabreski remained with the 45th (renamed as 45th Fighter Squadron in May 1942), training in newer model P-40s and in Bell P-39 Airacobras that the unit began to receive.
He closely followed reports on the Battle of Britain and the role played in it by Polish RAF squadrons, especially by the legendary No. 303 Polish Fighter Squadron. He became concerned that the US did not have many experienced fighter pilots. This gave him an idea: since Polish squadrons had proved to be capable within the RAF and since he himself was of Polish origin and spoke Polish, he offered to serve as a liaison officer to the Polish squadrons to learn from their experience. The idea was approved, and he left Hawaii for Washington, D.C. in September 1942, where he was promoted to captain.
In October, Gabreski reported to the Eighth Air Force's VIII Fighter Command in England, at that time a rudimentary new headquarters. After a lengthy period of inactivity, he tried to arrange duty with 303 Squadron, but that unit had been taken out of action for a period of rest. Instead, he was posted to No. 315 (Deblin) Squadron at RAF Northolt in January 1943.
Gabreski flew the new Supermarine Spitfire Mark IX, flying patrol sweeps over the Channel. He first encountered Luftwaffe opposition on February 3, when a group of Focke-Wulf Fw 190s jumped his squadron. Too excited to make a "kill", Gabreski learned that he had to keep calm during a mission, a lesson that served him well later in the war. He later spoke with great esteem about the Polish pilots and the lessons they taught him. In all, Gabreski flew 20 missions with the Poles, engaging in combat once.
On February 27, 1943, Gabreski became part of the 56th Fighter Group, flying the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt, assigned to the 61st Fighter Squadron, and quickly became a flight leader. He was immediately resented by many of his fellow pilots, and the fact that he was opinionated and verbose did little to ease the situation.In May, shortly after the group moved to RAF Halesworth and entered combat, Gabreski was promoted to major.
On June 9, he took command of the 61st Fighter Squadron when its commanding officer was moved up to group deputy commander. This also stirred ill feelings toward him since he had been jumped over two more senior pilots.This ill will was soon exacerbated when both of these men were lost in combat on June 26 and did not subside until he recorded his first credited kill: an Fw 190 near Dreux, France, on August 24, 1943. His first kill presaged criticism that followed him throughout his combat career, when his wingmen complained that his attack had been too hastily conducted to allow them to also engage.
On November 26, 1943, the 56th FG was assigned to cover the withdrawal of Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress bombers that had bombed Bremen, Germany. The P-47s arrived to find the bombers under heavy attack near Oldenburg and dived into the fray. Gabreski recorded his fourth and fifth kills to become an ace, but had a close brush with death on December 11, mm (.79 in) cannon shell lodged in his engine without exploding, destroying its turbocharger. Low on fuel and ammunition, Gabreski outmaneuvered a Bf 109 until it succeeded in placing a burst of fire into his P-47, disabling the engine. Gabreski stayed in the airplane, however, until it restarted at a lower altitude, where the turbocharger was not needed.when a 20
In November 1943, the group commander of the 56th, Colonel Hubert Zemke, was replaced in command for two months by Colonel Robert Landry, a staff officer at VIII FC. Because of Landry's inexperience, combat missions of the 56th were alternately led by deputy commander Lieutenant Colonel David C. Schilling and Gabreski, who acted as deputy group operations officer. When Zemke resumed command on January 19, 1944, Gabreski relinquished command of the 61st FS.
In February 1944, Gabreski brought two Polish pilots into the 56th, who had flown with him in 1943 while serving with the RAF, including future USAAF ace Squadron Leader Boleslaw "Mike" Gladych. With Gabreski's support and to ease a shortage of experienced pilots caused by many veterans reaching the completion of their tours, the 61st FS in April accepted five other Polish Air Force pilots into the squadron as the "Polish Flight".
Gabreski's victory total steadily climbed through the winter of 1943–44. By March 27, he had 18 victory credits and had six multiple-kill missions to rank third in the "ace race" that had developed within VIII Fighter Command. He downed only one more aircraft in the next two months, during which time the two pilots ahead of him (Majors Robert S. Johnson and Walker M. Mahurin, also of the 56th FG) were sent home.
In April 1944, the 56th FG moved to RAF Boxted and Gabreski was promoted to lieutenant colonel. He resumed command of the 61st FS when its commander was transferred to VIII FC headquarters.
On May 22, Gabreski shot down three Fw 190s over a Luftwaffe airfield in northwest Germany. He tied Johnson as the leading ace in the European Theater of Operations on June 27 (passing Eddie Rickenbacker's record from World War I in the process), and on July 5, 1944, became America's leading ace in the ETO, with his score of 28 destroyed matching the total at the time of confirmed victories of the Pacific Theatre's top American ace, Richard Bong. This total was never surpassed by any U.S. pilot fighting the Luftwaffe.
On July 20, 1944, Gabreski had reached the 300-hour combat time limit for Eighth Air Force fighter pilots and was awaiting an aircraft to return him to the United States on leave and reassignment. He had already advised Kay Cochran to proceed with wedding plans, and his hometown of Oil City, Pennsylvania, had raised $2,000 for a wedding present in anticipation of his return.
Gabreski found, however, that a bomber escort mission to Russelheim, Germany, was scheduled for that morning, and, instead of boarding the transport, he requested to "fly just one more."Returning from the mission, Gabreski observed Heinkel He 111s parked on the airfield at Bassenheim, Germany, and took his airplane down to attack.
He was dissatisfied with his first strafing run on an He 111, and he reversed for a second pass. When his tracers went over the parked bomber, he dropped the nose of his Thunderbolt to adjust, and its propeller clipped the runway, bending the tips.The damage caused his engine to vibrate violently and he was forced to crash land. Gabreski ran into nearby woods and eluded capture for five days. After being captured and interrogated by Obergefreiter Hanns Scharff, he was sent to Stalag Luft I. A DVD of a reunion in 1983 of Stalag Luft III survivors includes a mock interrogation between Hanns Scharff and Gabreski. It is available from RDR Productions in Glenview, IL. Gabreski was liberated when Soviet forces seized the camp in April 1945.
Gabreski flew 166 combat sorties and was officially credited by the USAAF with 28 aircraft destroyed in air combat and 3 on the ground.He was assigned five P-47s during his time with the 56th FG, none of which he named, but all of which bore the fuselage identification codes HV: A.
Following his repatriation, Gabreski returned to the United States and married Kay Cochran on June 11, 1945. After a 90-day recuperative leave, he became Chief of Fighter Test Section at Wright Field, Ohio, and at the same time completed test pilot training at its Engineering Flight Test School. In April 1946, he left the service, worked for Douglas Aircraft for a year, then was recalled to active duty in April 1947 to command the 55th Fighter Squadron, 20th Fighter Group, at Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina.
His command of the 55th FS was brief. The Air Force sent him to Columbia University in September 1947 to complete his degree and study Russian. In June 1949, he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. He returned immediately to flying, becoming commander of his former unit, the 56th Fighter Group, now flying F-80 Shooting Stars at Selfridge Air Force Base, Michigan. While in command of the 56th, Gabreski oversaw conversion of the unit to North American F-86 Sabres and was promoted to colonel on March 11, 1950.
He participated in aerial combat again during the Korean War. In June 1951, he and a group of selected pilots of the 56th FIW accompanied the delivery of F-86Es of the 62d FIS to Korea aboard the escort carrier USS Cape Esperance. The planes and pilots joined the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Group at K-14 (Kimpo) Air Base, where most engaged in combat. On July 8, 1951, flying his fifth mission in an F-86, Gabreski shot down a MiG 15, followed by MiG kills on September 2 and October 2.
The growing MiG threat against Boeing B-29 Superfortress bomber attacks along the Yalu River caused the Fifth Air Force to create a second Sabre wing by converting the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing from F-80s to F-86s in a 10-day period.Gabreski was transferred to K-13 (Suwon) Air Base, accompanied by most of the former 56th FIW pilots who had come with him to Korea, and took command November 6, 1951. During its first seven months as an F-86 wing, the 51st, with only two operational squadrons, scored 96 MiG kills, comparing favorably to the 125 of the veteran 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing, which operated three. Gabreski himself scored 3½ more kills to become a jet ace.
He was an aggressive commander and fostered a fierce rivalry between the two F-86 wings,fueled in part by the fact that the 4th had also been the keenest rival of the 56th FG during World War II. While this aggressiveness paid off in the destruction of MiGs and air superiority over all of Korea, it also led Gabreski to make the first intentional violation of rules of engagement that prohibited combat with MiGs over China. (The MiG force was based in this ostensible sanctuary during the entire war.) Gabreski and a fellow former 56th pilot, Colonel Walker M. Mahurin, planned and executed a mission in early 1952 in which the F-86s turned off their IFF equipment and overflew two Chinese bases.
Gabreski was also criticized for having a poor attitude towards wingmen. One historian, citing five interviews with pilots and an unpublished manuscript by a sixth, observed that Gabreski flew the fastest aircraft available and failed to notice when his slower wingmen could not keep up. These pilots, reportedly afraid to fly with him, commented that he was more interested in personal achievement than in his wingmen. He was also criticized for a lack of discipline among his off-duty pilots and for allegedly encouraging exaggerated kill claims.
Nonetheless, at least three wingmen had different views. 1st Lieutenant Joe L. Cannon of the 51st FIW flew over 40 missions with him and described Gabreski as a mentor and "my kind of fighter pilot".1st Lt. Harry Shumate, another 51st FIW pilot, stated that while flying wingman in Gabreski's flight, Shumate was the first to spot a MiG-15 heading for its base and Gabreski told him to "go get him" while the leader covered. A 4th FIW pilot, 1st Lt. Anthony Kulengosky, observed:
I moved up in the world of wingmen by flying Col. Francis Gabreski's wing on a mission. I was absolutely thrilled to fly on this legend's wing...He was a tiger and went on to become an ace again. When asked who I looked up to the most as a pilot and a gentleman in all my flying, I still have to say it was "Gabby" Gabreski. When he took over the 51st Wing, he asked me to move over as a flight leader in his outfit.
Capt. Robert W. "Smitty" Smith, a 4th FIW pilot in Korea, recalled:
Shortly after my arrival, Gabby flew the first F-86E to arrive on base in simulated combat over the field against an F-86A and whipped the other guy badly, with every Sabre jock on the base as witness. After he landed he briefed all pilots and announced that the limited number of E’s would be reserved for flight leaders. I never forgot his response, when someone asked about the problem of wingmen staying with leaders. He replied "Wingmen are to absorb firepower" and I never knew him well enough to judge whether he had a dry sense of humor, but he made the right choice. One thing I know for sure, Gabby proved himself the greatest at our skills and talents, when he added 6 ½ MIG kills to his 28 victories in WW II and become the all-time American Fighter Ace, and I MIGht [ sic ] add, he did it in the P-47, not the better air-to-air P-51. And he didn’t have a chance to fly the much more powerful F-86F, which arrived after us.
A noted pilot also rebuts some of the criticism. Major William T. Whisner had been a P-51 double-ace in World War II and was one of the pilots Gabreski brought with him from the 56th FIW in June 1951. Before the mission of February 20, 1952, Gabreski and Whisner each had four MiGs credited as destroyed. During the mission, Gabreski attacked and severely damaged a MiG 15 that fled across the Yalu River into China. He broke off the engagement and returned to base after his own airplane was damaged, where he claimed the MiG as a "probable kill".
Whisner trailed the MiG deep into Manchuria trying to confirm Gabreski's kill, but his Sabre ran low on fuel. He completed the shootdown and returned to K-14 where he confirmed the kill for Gabreski but did not claim it himself. Gabreski confronted him and angrily ordered him to change his mission report, confirming Whisner's own role in the kill. Whisner refused. Soon after, Gabreski recanted his anger and the two shared the claim, as a consequence of which three days later Whisner and not Gabreski became the first pilot of the 51st FW to reach jet ace status.
Gabreski's Korean tour was due to end in June. As he approached his mission limit in early April, he quit logging sorties to avoid being transferred from his command.He was, however, grounded by Fifth Air Force from further combat in mid-May when his deputy commander, Colonel Mahurin, was shot down. Gabreski was subsequently replaced by Colonel John W. Mitchell, who had led the mission to shoot down Admiral Yamamoto in World War II.
On his return to the United States, Gabreski received the key to the city from San Francisco Mayor Elmer E. Robinson and was given a ticker-tape parade up Market Street on June 17.
Gabreski's 6½ MiG-15 kill credits make him one of seven U.S. pilots to become an ace in more than one war (the others being Whisner, Colonel Harrison Thyng, Colonel James P. Hagerstrom, Colonel Vermont Garrison, Major George A. Davis, Jr., and U.S. Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel John F. Bolt). Gabreski was officially credited with 123 combat missions in Korea, totaling 289 for his career. Although he flew many F-86s in combat, his assigned aircraft was F-86E-10-NA 51-2740, nicknamed "Gabby".
Gabreski's Air Force career continued for another 15 years, during which time he held three wing commands totaling nearly nine years of duty. His assignments were:
Gabreski retired on November 1, 1967. Per his USAF official biography, he retired with more than 5,000 flying hours, 4,000 of them in jets.
|Date||#||Type||Location||Aircraft flown||Unit Assigned|
|August 24, 1943||1||Focke-Wulf Fw 190||Dreux, France||P-47D||61 FS, 56 FG|
|September 3, 1943||1||Fw 190||St-Germain, France||P-47D||61 FS, 56 FG|
|November 11, 1943||1||Fw 190||Rheine, Germany||P-47D||61 FS, 56 FG|
|November 26, 1943||2||Messerschmitt Bf 110||Oldenburg, Germany||P-47D||61 FS, 56 FG|
|November 29, 1943||2||Messerschmitt Bf 109||Bremen, Germany||P-47D||61 FS, 56 FG|
|December 11, 1943||1||Bf 110||Emden, Germany||P-47D||61 FS, 56 FG|
|January 29, 1944||1||Bf 110||Emden, Germany||P-47D||56 FG Hq|
|January 30, 1944||1||Messerschmitt Me 410||Lingen, Germany||P-47D||56 FG Hq|
|January 30, 1944||1||Bf 109||Lingen, Germany||P-47D||56 FG Hq|
|February 20, 1944||2||Me 410||Koblenz, Germany||P-47D||56 FG Hq|
|February 22, 1944||1||Fw 190||Paderborn, Germany||P-47D||56 FG Hq|
|March 16, 1944||2||Fw 190||Nancy, France||P-47D||56 FG Hq|
|March 27, 1944||2||Bf 109||Nantes, France||P-47D||56 FG Hq|
|May 8, 1944||1||Bf 109||Celle, Germany||P-47D||61 FS, 56 FG|
|May 22, 1944||3||Fw 190||Höperhöfen, Germany||P-47D||61 FS, 56 FG|
|June 7, 1944||1||Bf 109||Dreux, France||P-47D||61 FS, 56 FG|
|June 7, 1944||1||Fw 190||Dreux, France||P-47D||61 FS, 56 FG|
|June 12, 1944||2||Bf 109||Évreux, France||P-47D||61 FS, 56 FG|
|June 27, 1944||1||Bf 109||Connantre, France||P-47D||61 FS, 56 FG|
|July 5, 1944||1||Bf 109||Évreux, France||P-47D||61 FS, 56 FG|
|July 5, 1951||1||MiG-15||North Korea||North American F-86A Sabre||4 FIG|
|September 2, 1951||1||MiG-15||North Korea||F-86A||4 FIG|
|October 2, 1951||1||MiG-15||North Korea||F-86A||4 FIG|
|January 11, 1952||1||MiG-15||Dandong, China ?||F-86E||51 FIW|
|February 20, 1952||0.5||MiG-15||North Korea||F-86E||51 FIW|
|April 1, 1952||1||MiG-15||North Korea||F-86E||51 FIW|
|April 13, 1952||1||MiG-15||North Korea||F-86E||51 FIW|
Gabreski's military decorations and awards include:
|Command pilot badge|
|Distinguished Service Cross|
|Distinguished Service Medal|
|Silver Star with bronze oak leaf cluster|
|Legion of Merit|
|Distinguished Flying Cross with two silver and two bronze oak leaf clusters|
|Bronze Star Medal|
|Air Medal with silver and bronze oak leaf clusters|
|Air Force Presidential Unit Citation with bronze oak leaf cluster|
|Air Force Outstanding Unit Award|
|Prisoner of War Medal|
|American Defense Service Medal with one service star|
|American Campaign Medal|
|Asiatic-Pacific Campaign Medal with bronze campaign star|
|European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with two bronze campaign stars|
|World War II Victory Medal|
|Army of Occupation Medal|
|National Defense Service Medal with one service star|
|Korean Service Medal with two bronze campaign stars|
|Air Force Longevity Service Award with silver oak leaf cluster|
Following his retirement from the Air Force, Gabreski worked for Grumman Aerospace until August 1978. He was asked by New York Governor Hugh Carey to serve as president of the financially stressed and state-owned Long Island Rail Road in an attempt to improve the commuter line. Carey was opposed in the Democratic gubernatorial primary election by his own lieutenant governor, Maryanne Krupsak, and in part appointed Gabreski to enhance his election campaign based on Gabreski's Polish extraction and Long Island affiliations.
After what he described as an 18-month struggle with the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Gabreski resigned on February 26, 1981.He charged that the creation of an executive director's position, and its appointee, obstructed his efforts to improve service, replace equipment, and change its executive staff. However, a severe heat wave in the summer of 1980 that overwhelmed the commuter line's air conditioning systems was apparently the final straw that forced his resignation.
Francis and Kay Gabreski had nine children in 48 years of marriage. Two of their three sons graduated from the United States Air Force Academy and became career Air Force pilots.His daughter-in-law Terry L. Gabreski was promoted to lieutenant general in August 2005, the highest-ranking woman in the USAF until her retirement in 2010. His wife died as the result of an automobile accident as they both were returning from the Oshkosh Air Show on August 6, 1993. She was interred in Calverton National Cemetery, 25 miles from their home in Dix Hills.
Gabreski died of an apparent heart attack in Huntington Hospital, Long Island, New York on January 31, 2002, and is buried in Calverton National Cemetery.Gabreski's funeral on February 6 was with full military honors and included a missing man formation flyover by F-15E Strike Eagles from the 4th Fighter Wing, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, North Carolina.
Suffolk County Air Force Base in Westhampton Beach, New York, which became Suffolk County Airport in 1969, was renamed Francis S. Gabreski Airport in 1991. The collocated New York Air National Guard installation at the airport was also renamed Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base. In 1978, he was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame. Gabreski Road at Shaw AFB, SC, is named in his honor.
The Colonel Francis S. Gabreski squadron of the Civil Air Patrol located in Bellport, New York is named in his honor.
The North American F-86 Sabre, sometimes called the Sabrejet, is a transonic jet fighter aircraft. Produced by North American Aviation, the Sabre is best known as the United States' first swept wing fighter that could counter the swept-wing Soviet MiG-15 in high-speed dogfights in the skies of the Korean War (1950–1953), fighting some of the earliest jet-to-jet battles in history. Considered one of the best and most important fighter aircraft in that war, the F-86 is also rated highly in comparison with fighters of other eras. Although it was developed in the late 1940s and was outdated by the end of the 1950s, the Sabre proved versatile and adaptable and continued as a front-line fighter in numerous air forces until the last active operational examples were retired by the Bolivian Air Force in 1994.
Francis S. Gabreski Airport is a county-owned, joint civil-military airport located 3 nautical miles (6 km) north of the central business district of Westhampton Beach, in Suffolk County, Long Island, New York, United States. It is approximately 80 miles (130 km) east of New York City.
Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base is a former air defense military installation collocated to use runways with the Westhampton, New York, municipal airport. Some of the facilities and real estate of Suffolk County AFB, which closed in 1969, are now part of the renamed Francis S. Gabreski Airport, while other former Air Force facilities, as well as new military construction, are used by the New York Air National Guard's 106th Rescue Wing stationed at Francis S. Gabreski Air National Guard Base.
Robert Samuel Johnson was a fighter pilot with the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) during World War II. He is credited with scoring 27 victories during the conflict flying a Republic P-47 Thunderbolt.
George Andrew Davis Jr. was a highly decorated fighter pilot and flying ace of the United States Army Air Forces in World War II, and later of the United States Air Force during the Korean War. Davis rose to the rank of major, and was promoted posthumously to lieutenant colonel and awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions in "MiG Alley" during the latter war. He was the only flying ace of the United States to be killed in action in Korea.
The 51st Fighter Wing is a wing of the United States Air Force and the host unit at Osan Air Base, South Korea. The wing has been based entirely in the Far East during its entire existence, including its combat role was as the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing during the Korean War.
"MiG Alley" was the name given by United Nations (UN) pilots to the northwestern portion of North Korea, where the Yalu River empties into the Yellow Sea during the Korean War. It was the site of numerous dogfights between UN fighter pilots and their opponents from North Korea and the People's Republic of China. Soviet-built Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-15 were the aircraft used during most of the conflict, and the area's nickname was derived from them. It was the site of the first large-scale jet-vs-jet air battles, with the North American F-86 Sabre.
Royal Air Force Boxted or more simply RAF Boxted is a former Royal Air Force station located 4 miles (6.4 km) north-northeast of Colchester, Essex England.
Brigadier General Harrison Reed Thyng was a fighter pilot and a general in the United States Air Force (USAF). He is notable as one of only six USAF fighter pilots to be recognized as an ace in two wars. On retiring from the military, Thyng became a New Hampshire candidate to the United States Senate.
The Hunters is James Salter's debut novel and a tale of USAF fighter pilots during the Korean War, first published in 1956. The novel was the basis for the 1958 film adaptation of the novel starring Robert Mitchum and Robert Wagner with a different storyline.
Colonel Walker Melville "Bud" Mahurin was a United States Air Force officer and aviator. During World War II, while serving in the United States Army Air Forces, he was a flying ace.
John Franklin Bolt was a naval aviator in the United States Marine Corps and a decorated flying ace who served during World War II and the Korean War. He remains the only U.S. Marine to achieve ace status in two wars and was also the only Marine jet fighter ace. He rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel during his military career.
Harold Elwood "Bunny" Comstock was an American fighter ace in the 56th Fighter Group during World War II, and a career fighter pilot in the United States Air Force. After a test flight of the Republic P-47 Thunderbolt on 13 November 1942, Republic Aviation issued a press release on 1 December 1942 claiming that he and fellow pilot, Lieutenant Roger Dyar had exceeded the speed of sound.
Vermont Garrison was a career officer in the United States Air Force, and a flying ace credited with 17.33 victories in aerial combat. He was one of only seven Americans to achieve ace status during World War II, then again against jet fighter opposition during the Korean War. In 1966, Garrison participated in his third war, as vice commander of the 8th Tactical Fighter Wing, and flew a full tour of bombing and fighter missions over North Vietnam.
The 51st Operations Group is the operational flying component of the United States Air Force 51st Fighter Wing, stationed at Osan Air Base, South Korea.
Lev Kirillovich Schukin was a MiG-15 pilot of the Soviet Union. He was a participant of World War II. He was also a flying ace during the Korean war.
Dolphin Dunnaha Overton III was a United States Air Force aviator who became a flying ace during the Korean War. Overton's controversial tour in Korea led to his being removed from combat and denied his medals and victory credits, but he was subsequently reinstated with these.
William Thomas Whisner Jr. was a career officer and pilot in the United States Air Force, retiring as a colonel with 30 years of military service. He was a fighter ace with Army Air Forces over Europe in World War II and a jet fighter ace with the Air Force in the Korean War. He is one of the two airmen to ever receive three Distinguished Service Crosses.
Colonel James Philo Hagerstrom was a fighter ace of both the United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) in World War II and the U.S. Air Force (USAF) in the Korean War. With a career total of 14.5 victories, he is one of seven American pilots to have achieved ace status in two different wars.
Henry "Hank" Buttelmann is a retired fighter pilot of the United States Air Force in the Korean War and Vietnam War. He achieved seven victories over enemy aircraft in Korea, making him a flying ace. He gained his fifth kill on June 30, 1953, just after his 24th birthday, which made him the youngest ace of the war.
Robert K. Pattison
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Daniel T. Scannell