Francis "Gabby" Gabreski

01.28.1919 - 01.31.2002

U.S. Army Air Corps

Distinguished Service Cross 


Francis Stanley "Gabby" Gabreski (born Franciszek Gabryszewski) was the son of Polish immigrants to the US. He enlisted with the United States Army Air Corps in July 1940, was commissioned a Second Lieutenant in the Air Reserve in March 1941, and was posted to Wheeler Field, Hawaii.

He was with the 45th Fighter Squadron when he flew sorties during the attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.

Gabreski returned to the US in October 1942 and was assigned to the 56th Fighter Group as flight leader. He was assigned to the UK with the 56th Fighter Group in January 1943 and was immediately detached to No. 315 Squadron, RAF at RAF Norholt where he flew 13 operational sorties in Spitfire Vs. He formed close friendships with the pilots of No. 315 Squadron.

Gabreski returned to the 56th Fighter Group in late February 1943 and led B Flight of the 61st Fighter Squadron. He took command of the 61st FS on June 9, 1943.

Gabreski became 56th FG Deputy Flying Executive and Operations Officer on January 20, 1944. He was promoted to Lt. Col. and assumed command of the 61st FS on April 13, 1944.

On 20 July 1944 he crash landed near Bassinheim Airfield, Germany, and went into hiding. He was captured after five days and imprisoned in Stalag Luft I near Barth, Germany.

Gabreski flew 153 combat missions and claimed 28 victories. He served in USAF until 1967 when he retired with the rank of Colonel. He remains the top US fighter ace with 34.5 victories in WWII and the Korean War.
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