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Francis Stanley Gabreski

Military

Francis S Gabreski 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 (Polish) 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.

DSC/ Polish Cross of Valor/ SS/ DFC w/ 7 Oak Leaf Cluster/ AM w/ 5 Oak Leaf Cluster

Service

People

  • Michael Franza

    Military | Corporal (Technician Fifth Grade) | Works on P-47 thunderbolts (Engineer) | 56th Fighter Group
    Lieutenant-Colonel Francis S. Gabreski, ace pilot of the 61st Fighter Squadron, 56th Fighter Group, stands with the ground crew who keep his P-47 Thunderbolt in fit shape for combat. They are, from left to right, Crew Chief Staff Sergeant Ralph H....

  • Walter Frederick

    Military | First Lieutenant | Fighter Pilot | 56th Fighter Group
    1st Lt Walter R. Frederick 8th AF 56th FG 63rd. ...

  • Eugene O'Neill

    Military | Colonel | Fighter Pilot | 56th Fighter Group
    American Fight Ace, Joined the Army Air Corp in April of 1941. Member of the famed 56FG, "Zemke's Wolf Pack", 62nd PS Dog Patch B Flight Leader. Awarded Silver Star, 3 Distinguished Flying Crosses, and Four Air Medals. During 20 years of service...

Units served with

  • 56th Fighter Group

    56th Fighter Group

    Group
    Flying P-47 Thunderbolts throughout their time stationed in England, the Group, known as "the Wolfpack", had more ace pilots than any other Eighth Air Force Fighter Group. The 56th Fighter Group also destroyed more enemy aircraft in air combat than any...

  • 61st Fighter Squadron
  • Headquarters (56th Fighter Group)

Aircraft

  • 42-26418

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Lost in this a/c 20 July 44 - POW

  • 42-75510

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    5 August 1944, whilst escorting bombers the aircraft, flown by William M Buttner, became detached from the rest of the Squadron when under fire from enemy aircraft. ...

  • 42-7871

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Gabreski's 2nd P-47. Recoded to HV-A.

  • 42-25864

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Gabreski's aircraft from May 1944 - Early June 1944.

  • 42-8458

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Reassigned to McMinn and recoded to HV-F

  • 42-74650

    P-47 Thunderbolt
    Reassigned to 78 FG 82 FS. Reassigned to Gabreski when Stewart went to VIII FC

Associated Place

  • Boxted

    Military site : airfield
    Boxted was built for heavy bombers and became operational from May 1943. In the few months B-26 Marauders of the 386th Bomb Group were stationed there, there were two night attacks by the Luftwaffe. On 17 August 1943, one man was killed when bombs...

  • Halesworth

    Military site : airfield
    Halesworth was constructed in 1942-1943. Initially planned as a bomber airfield, its location close to the Suffolk coast meant that it was in an ideal position to operate escort fighters, where range was a critical factor. Consequently, the 56th...

  • Horsham St Faith

    Military site : airfield
    Horsham St Faith was an RAF Bomber Command Station opened in June 1940. It was home to Bristol Blenheim medium-bombers, and was for a time occupied by fighters, including those of No. 19 Squadron and No. 264 Squadron. From September 1942 the airfield...

  • Kings Cliffe

    Military site : airfield
    Kings Cliffe began as a satellite air base for the Group based at nearby Wittering. The 56th Fighter Group, however, were all based at Kings Cliffe and it was here that the pilots trained in P-47 Thunderbolts and flew their first missions in the...

Events

Event Location Date
Born Oil City, PA, USA 28 January 1919

Gabreski was the son of Polish immigrants.

Enlisted July 1940

US Army Air Corps as Second Lieutenant

Transferred Wheeler Army Airfield, HI, USA 7 December 1941

Gabreski was based at Wheeler Field, Hawaii with the 45th Fighter Squadron when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour. He flew intercept during the attack.

Promoted near Bassenheim, Germany 20 July 1944

Crash-landed, escaped capture before becoming a Prisoner of War

Prisoner of War (POW) Stalag Luft I, near Barth, Germany 25 July 1944
Retired 1967

Retired with rank of Colonel

Died Huntington, NY, USA 31 January 2002

Revisions

Date Contributor Update
04 February 2015 15:59:07 Lucy May Changes to service number, role, biography and awards
Sources

Combined several entries for Francis Gabreski into a single entry. Now includes information from the following sources:
Biography/ MACR 6843 / Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / MACR 6843 / Paul Andrews, Project Bits and Pieces, 8th Air Force Roll of Honor database

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / www.56thfightergroup.co.uk/personnel.htm

Date Contributor Update
02 October 2014 15:15:08 Emily Changes to events
Sources

Changed pin category

Date Contributor Update
02 October 2014 10:49:29 Emily Changes to middlename, nickname and events
Sources

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabby_Gabreski

Date Contributor Update
01 October 2014 14:47:09 Emily Changes to events
Sources

Changed multiple Born events to Other

Date Contributor Update
01 October 2014 14:43:06 Emily Changes to events
Sources

Changed Wheeler Field event from Born to Other

Date Contributor Update
01 October 2014 14:42:09 Emily Changes to events
Sources

Updated location pin for crash landing

Date Contributor Update
01 October 2014 14:40:56 Emily Changes to events
Sources

Added map location for Wheeler Field to Biography

Date Contributor Update
01 October 2014 14:38:35 Emily Changes to nickname, highest rank, role, biography, awards, events, place associations, aircraft associations and media associations
Sources

Drawn from the records of the National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah, Georgia / www.56thfightergroup.co.uk/personnel.htm

Freeman, The Mighty Eighth, p. 272.

Date Contributor Update
27 September 2014 18:09:51 AAM AAM ingest
Sources

Ted Damick, VIII Fighter Command pilots list

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