Gabby Gabreski 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. He also was one of only seven U.S. combat pilots to become an ace in two wars.
Gabreski's parents had emigrated from Poland to Oil City, Pennsylvania, in the early 1900s. His father (Stanley Gabryszewski) owned and operated a market. He attended Notre Dame, but when war broke out he joined the Army and was assigned as a fighter pilot with the 45th Pursuit Squadron of the 15th Pursuit Group at Wheeler Field, Hawaii. He was later assigned to the European theater. 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.
Once in Europe his skill as a fighter was noticeable. 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. Overtime he became the highest scoring American ace in the European theater during World War II. In June 1944 he crash landed his plane and was captured by the enemy. He was released from prison in April 1945.
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