Gabby Gabreski

Gabby Gabreski

Infobox Military Person
name= Francis Stanley Gabreski
born= birth date|1919|1|28
died= death date and age|2002|1|31|1919|1|28
placeofbirth= Oil City, Pennsylvania
placeofdeath= Huntington, New York
placeofburial=Calverton National Cemetery, New York


caption=Col. Francis S. Gabreski
nickname=Gabby
allegiance= United States of America
branch=
serviceyears= 1940-1946, 1947-1967
rank=
commands=61st Fighter Squadron 55th Fighter Squadron 56th Fighter Group 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing 354th Tactical Fighter Wing 18th Tactical Fighter Wing 52d Fighter Wing (Air Defense)
unit=
battles= World War II Korean War
awards= Distinguished Service Cross Distinguished Service Medal Silver Star (2) Legion of Merit Distinguished Flying Cross (13) Bronze Star Air Medal (5)
laterwork=

Francis Stanley "Gabby" Gabreski (Franciszek Gabryszewski) (28 January 1919 - January 31 2002) was the top American fighter ace in Europe during World War II, a jet fighter ace in Korea, and a career officer in the United States Air Force with more than 26 years service.

Although best known for his credited destruction of 34.5 aircraft in aerial combat and being one of only seven U.S. 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, Gabreski had six command tours at group or wing level, including one in combat in Korea, totalling over eleven years of command and fifteen 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.

Biography

Gabreski's official Air Force biography states:

(Gabreski's parents) had emigrated from Poland to Oil City, Pennsylvania, in the early 1900s. His father [Stanley Gabryszewski] owned and operated a market, putting in 12-hour days. Like many immigrant-owned businesses in those days, the whole family worked at the market. But Gabreski's parents had dreams for him, including attending Notre Dame University. He did so in 1938, but, unprepared for real academic work, almost flunked out during his freshman year. During his second year at Notre Dame, Army Air Corps recruiters visited the campus. Gabreski went to hear them, primarily because his friends were going. The Army's enticing offer impressed him and he enrolled, reporting in July 1940.

In 1938, during his first year at Notre Dame, Gabreski developed an interest in flying, taking lessons in a Taylor Cub and accumulating six hours of flight time. However, his autobiography indicates he struggled to fly smoothly and did not solo, advised by his instructor Homer Stockert that he didn't "have the touch to be a pilot". [Boyne, Walter J., "Gabreski", "AIR FORCE Magazine", November 2005, Vol. 88, No. 11, p.71.]

At the start of his second year at Notre Dame, Poland was invaded by Nazi Germany, angering him and re-kindling his interest in flying. Gabreski enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps, volunteering as an aviation cadet. After his induction into the U.S. Army at Pittsburgh, Gabreski undertook primary flight training at Parks Air College, near East St. Louis, Illinois, flying the Stearman PT-17. Gabreski was a mediocre trainee, forced to pass an elimination check ride during primary to continue training. [cite book
author=Kenneth P. Werrell
chapter=Other Aces: Francis "Gabby" Gabreski
title=Sabres Over MiG Alley: The F-86 and the Battle For Air Superiority in Korea
editor=
publisher=Naval Institute Press
id= ISBN 1591149339
year=2005|pages=
, 186.
] 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 AT-6 Texan. Gabreski achieved 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.

World War II

Assigned as a pilot with the 45th Pursuit Squadron of the 15th Pursuit Group at Wheeler Field, Hawaii, 2nd Lt. Gabreski trained on both the P-36 and the newer P-40. 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 before their reaction. During the spring and summer of 1942 Gabreski remained with the 45th FS, training in newer model P-40s and in P-39 Airacobras that the unit began to receive.

Gabreski followed closely 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 Gabreski 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 received a promotion to Captain.

RAF duty

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 the 303 Squadron, but that unit had been taken out of action for a period of rest. Instead he was attached to the 315th Polish "Deblinski" Fighter Squadron at RAF Northolt in January 1943.

Gabreski flew the new Spitfire Mark IX. He and his fellow pilots flew patrol sweeps over the Channel. He first encountered Luftwaffe opposition on February 3, when a group of 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 lessons he learned from them. In all Gabreski flew 20 missions with the Poles, engaging in combat once. [Boyne, "Gabreski", p.72.] [There is considerable disagreement on the number with the RAF. Boyne states "two dozen". Freeman in "The Mighty Eighth" placed it at 13. Ace-Pilots made it an unspecified number more than 27. 18FWA, Aces, and the NMUSAF fact sheet state 20.]

56th Fighter Group

On February 27, 1943, Gabreski became part of the 56th Fighter Group, flying the 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 his opinionated, verbose personality did little to ameliorate the situation. [cite book
author=Roger A. Freeman
chapter=
title=Wolfpack Warriors: The Story of World War II's Most Successful Fighter Outfit
editor=
publisher=Grub Street, London
id= ISBN 1904010938
year=2004|pages=
, 47. Freeman and Boyne note that this ill will was not shared by 56FG ace Jerry Johnson, who rose to the rank of Lieutenant General.
] 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 CO was moved up to group deputy commander. This also stirred ill feelings toward him since he had jumped over two more senior pilots in obtaining the command. [Freeman, "Wolfpack Warriors", 59, 69.] This ill will was soon exacerbated when both of his rival flight leaders were lost in combat on June 26, and did not subside until he recorded his first credited kill, of an Fw 190 near Dreux, France, on August 24, 1943. [cite book
author=Roger A. Freeman
chapter=
title=The Mighty Eighth
editor=
publisher=Motorbooks International
id= ISBN 087938638X
year=1993|pages=
, 272. All information regarding his claims is from Freeman, corroborated by [http://afhra.maxwell.af.mil/numbered_studies/1039707.pdf Air Force Historical Study 85: USAF Credits For Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II] .
] His first kill presaged criticism that would follow him throughout his combat career, when his wingmen complained that his attack had been too hastily conducted to allow them to also engage. [Boyne, "Gabreski", p.73.]

On November 26, 1943, the 56th FG was assigned to cover the withdrawal of B-17s that had bombed Bremen, Germany. The P-47s arrived to find the bombers under heavy attack near Oldenburg and dove into the fray. Gabreski recorded his fourth and fifth kills to become an ace, but had a close brush with death on December 11, when a 20 millimeter cannon shell lodged in his engine without exploding, destroying its turbocharger. [cite book
author=Roger A. Freeman
chapter=
title=56th Fighter Group
editor=
publisher=Osprey Publishing Ltd.
id= ISBN 1841760471
year=2000|pages=
, 36-38.
] Low on fuel and ammunition, Gabreski out-maneuvered a Bf 109 until it succeeded in placing a burst of fire into the P-47, disabling its engine. Gabreski stayed in the airplane, however, until it restarted at a lower altitude where the turbocharger was not needed. [Boyne, "Gabreski", p.73.]

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. [Freeman, "56th Fighter Group", 46.]

In February, Gabreski brought into the 56th two Polish pilots with whom he had flown 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 veteran pilots 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". [Freeman, "56th Fighter Group", 64, includes photograph of the flight.]

Gabreski's victory total steadily climbed through the winter of 1943-44. By March 27, he had earned 18 victory credits and had six multiple-kill missions to rank third in the "ace race" that had developed within VIII Fighter Command. He shot down 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. [ cite book
author=Robert S. Johnson
chapter=
title=Thunderbolt!
editor=
publisher=Honoribus Press
id= ISBN 1885354053
year=1958|pages=
, 292.
]

In April, 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. [Freeman, "56th Fighter Group", 56.]

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, with 28 destroyed. This total was never surpassed by any U.S. pilot fighting the Luftwaffe. [Freeman, "56th Fighter Group", 87.]

Prisoner of war

On 20 July, 1944, Gabreski had reached the 300-hour combat time limit for Eighth Air Force fighter pilots and was awaiting a plane to fly him back to the United States on leave and reassignment. He had already advised Kay Cochran to proceed with wedding plans, and his home town of Oil City, Pennsylvania, had raised $2,000 for a wedding present in anticipation of his return. cite web |last = |first = |authorlink = |coauthors = |year = |url = http://www.njipms.org/Features/Gabreski/gabreski-obit2.htm|title = Francis S. Gabreski, a World War II air ace, dies at 83|format = |work = |publisher = New York Times|accessdaymonth = 12 May |accessyear = 2007]

However, Gabreski found 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." cite web |last = |first = |authorlink = |coauthors = |year = |url = http://www.af.mil/history/person.asp?dec=1950&pid=123006456|title = Colonel Francis S. Gabreski|format = |work = |publisher = USAF biography|accessdaymonth = 10 May |accessyear = 2007] Returning from the mission, Gabreski observed He 111s parked on the airfield at Bassenheim, Germany, and took his flight down to attack.

His first strafing run on an He 111 was unsuccessful, 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. [Boyne, "Gabreski", p.74.] 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, but was eventually captured. After being interrogated by Hanns Scharff, Gabreski was sent to Stalag Luft I. He was liberated when Russian forces seized the camp in April 1945. [Freeman, "The Mighty Eighth", 172 and 272.]

Gabreski was officially credited by the USAF with 28 aircraft destroyed in air combat and 3 on the ground, flying 166 combat sorties. [NMUSAF fact sheet. Includes RAF sorties] He was assigned five P-47s during his time with the 56th FG, none of which was ever named, but all of which bore the fuselage identification codes HV: A. [Freeman, "The Mighty Eighth", 273.]

U.S. Air Force career

All assignment details from his [http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=1096 NMUSAF fact sheet] , other details as cited.

Following his repatriation, Gabreski returned to the United States and married Kay Cochran on June 11, 1945. After a 90-day recuperative leave, Gabreski 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 separated from 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 as the Air Force sent him to Columbia University in September 1947 to complete his degree and study Russian language. 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 F-86 Sabres and was promoted to Colonel on March 11, 1950.

Gabreski flew combat again during the Korean War. In June 1951 Gabreski 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. cite web |last = |first = |authorlink = |coauthors = |year = |url = http://afhra.maxwell.af.mil/numbered_studies/467670.pdf|title = Air Force Historical Study 81: USAF Credits for Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, Korean War|format = |work = |publisher = Air University|accessdaymonth = 10 May |accessyear = 2007]

51st FIW

The growing MiG threat against B-29 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. [cite book
author=Larry Davis
chapter=F-86 in Korea
title=Wings of Fame
editor=
publisher=Aerospace Publishing
id= ISBN 1861840179
year=1998|pages=
] 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 3.5 more kills to become a jet ace.

Gabreski was an aggressive commander and fostered a fierce rivalry between the two F-86 wings, [cite book
last = Werrell
first = Kenneth P.
authorlink =
year = 2005
title = Sabres over MiG Alley
publisher = Naval Institute Press
location =
id = ISBN 1-59114-933-9
, 86
] 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. [Werrell, "Sabres over MiG Alley", 131 and 188.]

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 the wingmen. He was also criticized for a lack of discipline among his off-duty pilots, and for allegedly encouraging exaggerated kill claims. [Werrell, "Sabres over MiG Alley", 188. The sources are cited at 286, note 37. Werrell interviewed 60 pilots, and his narrative indicates the criticisms were a majority view.]

However 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". [cite book
author=Warren E. Thompson and David R. McLaren
chapter=Outnumbered But Not Outfought
title=MiG Alley: Sabres vs. MiGs Over Korea
editor=
publisher=Specialty Press
id= ISBN 1580070582
year=2002|pages=
, 21.
] 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 heading for its base and Gabreski told him to "go get him" while the leader covered. [Thompson and McLaren, "MiG Alley: Sabres vs. MiGs Over Korea", 70.] 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. [Thompson and McLaren, "MiG Alley: Sabres vs. MiGs Over Korea", 62.]

A more 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. [cite book
author=Larry Davis
chapter=
title=MiG Alley: Air to Air Combat Over Korea
editor=
publisher=Squadron/Signal Publications
id= ISBN 0897470818
year=1978|pages=
, 27. The episode is told in Whisner's words. Werrell also reported the incident, using this source.
]

Gabreski's Korean tour was due to end in June. As he approached his mission-limit in early April, Gabreski quit logging sorties to avoid being transferred from his command. [Boyne, "Gabreski", p.74.] However he was 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, whose claim to fame was that he led the mission to shoot down Admiral Yamamoto in World War II. [Werrell, "Sabres over MiG Alley", 187 and 202.]

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. cite web |last = |first = |authorlink = |coauthors = |year = |url = http://content-backend-a.cdlib.org/view?docId=tf338n99v6&chunk.id=c041349|title = Guide to "San Francisco Call Bulletin" photographs, June 1952|format = |work = |publisher = Online Archive of california|accessdaymonth = 11 May |accessyear = 2007]

Gabreski's 6.5 MiG 15 kill credits make him one of seven U.S. pilots to be aces in more than one war (the others are Colonel Harrison Thyng, Colonel James P. Hagerstrom, Major William T. Whisner, Colonel Vermont Garrison, Major George A. Davis, Jr., and Lieutenant Colonel John F. Bolt, USMC). Gabreski was officially credited with 123 combat missions in Korea, totaling 289 for his career. While he flew many F-86s in combat, his assigned aircraft was F-86E-10-NA 51-2740, nicknamed "Gabby".

Post-Korea career

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:
*Chief of Combat Operations Section, Office of the Inspector General — Norton Air Force Base, California (July 1952 - June 1954)
*student, Air War CollegeMaxwell Air Force Base, Alabama (1954 - 1955)
*Deputy Chief of Staff, Headquarters Ninth Air ForceShaw Air Force Base, South Carolina (July 1955 - August 1956)
*Commander, 342d Fighter-Day WingMyrtle Beach Air Force Base, South Carolina (September 10, 1956 - November 19, 1956) (inactivated before operational and succeeded by 354th TFW)
*Commander, 354th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-100) — Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, South Carolina (November 19, 1956 - July 13, 1960)
*Commander, 18th Tactical Fighter Wing (F-100) — Kadena Air Base, Okinawa (August 8, 1960 - June 19, 1962)
*Director of the Secretariat, Headquarters Pacific Air ForcesHickam Air Force Base, Hawaii (July 1962 - July 1963)
*Inspector General, Pacific Air Forces — Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii (July 1963 - August 1964)
*Commander, 52d Fighter Wing (Air Defense) (F-101) — Suffolk County Air Force Base, New York (August 17, 1964 - October 31, 1967)

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. 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. In 1978 he was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

Aerial victory credits

::::SOURCES: "Air Force Historical Study 85: USAF Credits for the Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, World War II" and "Air Force Historical Study 81: USAF Credits for the Destruction of Enemy Aircraft, Korean War", Freeman, "The Mighty Eighth", 272-273

Awards and decorations

*

*

* Silver Star with oak leaf cluster

*

* with 12 oak leaf clusters

*

* with 4 oak leaf clusters

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*

*, 5 oak leaf clusters

*

* with Palm (France)

* (France)

* Croix de Guerre, with Palm (Belgium)

* (Cross of Valor - Poland)

Long Island Rail Road

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. cite web |last = |first = |authorlink = |coauthors = |year = |url = http://www.videofact.com/english/samples/E_2/E18.html|title = Francis S. Gabreski|format = |work = |publisher = videofacts|accessdaymonth = 12 May |accessyear = 2007]

After what he described as an 18-month struggle with the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Gabreski resigned his position on February 26, 1981. cite web |last = |first = |authorlink = |coauthors = |year = |url = http://select.nytimes.com/gst/abstract.html?res=F40D13FD3F5D0C728CDDAA0894D9484D81&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss|title = Stripped of power in '79, ex-LIRR chief charges|format = |work = |publisher = New York Times|accessdaymonth = 12 May |accessyear = 2007] Gabreski 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 Gabreski's resignation.

Family

Francis and Kay Gabreski had nine children in 48 years of marriage. Two of Gabreski's three sons graduated from the United States Air Force Academy and became career Air Force pilots. [Col. Donald F. Gabreski (USAF ret.), USAFA 1970, F-4, F-16 pilot; Lt.Col. Francis Robert Gabreski (USAF ret.), USAFA 1981, AC-130 pilot.] His daughter-in-law Terry L. Gabreski was promoted to Lieutenant General in August 2005, the highest-ranking woman in the USAF. cite web |last = |first = |authorlink = |coauthors = |year = |url = http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?storyID=123042375|title = Columbus Ohio to celebrate Air Force Heritage Week|format = |work = |publisher = Air Force Link|accessdaymonth = 15 May |accessyear = 2007. Her spouse is Colonel Donald F. Gabreski.]

Gabreski's spouse Kay died as the result of an automobile accident that occurred as she and Gabreski were returning from the Oshkosh Air Show on August 6, 1993. cite web |last = |first = |authorlink = |coauthors = |year = |url = http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GSln=Gabreski&GRid=675808&|title = Catherine C. Gabreski|format = |work = |publisher = Find-A-Grave|accessdaymonth = 12 May |accessyear = 2007 Note that Kay also served in the US Army during World War II.] She was interred in Calverton National Cemetery near their home in Dix Hills.

Gabreski died of an apparent heart attack in Huntington Hospital, Long Island, New York on January 31, 2002. He is buried in Calverton National Cemetery along with his wife. cite web |last = |first = |authorlink = |coauthors = |year = |url = http://gravelocator.cem.va.gov/j2ee/servlet/NGL_v1|title = National Gravesite Locator|format = |work = |publisher = US Department of Veterans Affairs|accessdaymonth= 12 May |accessyear = 2007 Both are buried in Section 14, Site 724.] 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. cite web |last = |first = |authorlink = |coauthors = |year = |url = http://www.njipms.org/Features/Gabreski/gabreski-obit.htm|title = Gabreski Funeral|format = |work = |publisher = NJIPMS|accessdate = 7 Jun|accessyear = 2007 First-hand account of funeral.]

External links

* [http://images.google.com/imgres?imgurl=http://www.clubhyper.com/reference/images/p47dgabreskitd_1.jpg&imgrefurl=http://www.clubhyper.com/reference/p47dtd_1.htm&h=271&w=700&sz=46&hl=en&start=7&tbnid=w_-ZkOtPi8Q55M:&tbnh=54&tbnw=140&prev=/images%3Fq%3Dfrancis%2Bgabreski%26svnum%3D10%26hl%3Den%26lr%3D%26sa%3DN Image of Gabreski's last P-47D]
* [http://www.starduststudios.com/Gabby_Gabreski.htm Col. Francis Gabreski Top ETO Thunderbolt Ace] —painting of 28th kill and photographs
* [http://www.af.mil/history/person.asp?dec=1950&pid=123006456 Col. Francis S. Gabreski - U.S. Air Force History site]
* [http://www.18thfwa.org/whosWho/FrancisGabreski/FrancisGabreski.html Col. Francis S. Gabreski - 18th Fighter Wing site]
* [http://members.tripod.com/usfighter/gabby.htm Col. Francis "Gabby" Gabreski - WWII Aces site]

Reference notes

References

* Francis Gabreski. 1992. "Gabby: A Fighter Pilot's Life". Dell Publishing, New York.
* cite book
last = Werrell
first = Kenneth P.
authorlink =
year = 2005
title = Sabres over MiG Alley
publisher = Naval Institute Press
location =
id = ISBN 1-59114-933-9

*cite book|author=Freeman, Roger A.|title=56th Fighter Group|year=2000|pages=|id=ISBN 1-84176-047-5

*_______. (2004) "Wolfpack Warriors: The Story of World War II's Most Successful Fighter Outfit", ISBN 1-904010-93-8
* [http://www.nationalmuseum.af.mil/factsheets/factsheet.asp?id=1096 Gabreski fact sheet, National Museum of the United States Air Force]


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