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Sample Autograph Signature: Francis Gabreski

American World War 2 fighter pilot who was the top ranking ace in the U. S. Air Force. Francis Stanley "Gabby" Gabreski (1919 - 2002) was born in Oil City, PA to Polish immigrants Stanley and Josephine Kapica Gabryszewski. His plans to pursue a medical career were altered by World War II when he enlisted in the Army and received flight training. He was assigned to England to serve as a liaison officer with the Polish Air Force, and then became a squadron leader with the U.S. 65th Fighter Group, Eighth Air Force. He flew 166 combat missions totaling 500 combat hours, and destroyed 31 enemy aircraft. Gabreski became a prisoner of war for 10 months beginning in July, 1944 after being forced down in Germany, but continued to fly missions after his released. After the war, Gabreski spent several years as a flight tester and commanding fighter units before being assigned as commander of the 51st Fighter Wing. During the Korean War, he shot down 6 1/2 MiG-15s. He retired from the Air Force as a Colonel in 1967 and worked in the aviation industry until 1978, when he became president of the Long Island Railroad. He retired in 1987. Gabreski's autobiography, Gabby, A Fighter Pilot's Life, was published in 1991 and republished in 1998. Gabreski was enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1978.

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Author: Francis Gabreski

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