Born on 28 January 1919 Oil City, Pensylvania Colonel Francis S, Gabreski was the top Amerlcan Air Ace in the European Theatre of Operations with 28: enemy fighters destroyed in aerial combat plus three (3) on the ground. colonel Gabreski was also an Ace in the Korean War with 6,5 fighters shot down in aerial combat. The military aviation career of Colonel Gabreski began in July 1940 and he graduated from Maxwell Air Force Base., Alabama, in March 1941. He was assigned to the 45th Fighter Squadron of the 15th fighter group in Hawaii, He was at Wheeler Field when the Japanese attacked Pear Harbor. In November 1942, he was sent to.England where he served as Liaison Officer to the Polish Air Force and flew Spitfires in 20 combat missions of 315 Squadron PAF. In February 1943 he was assigned to the 56 Fighter Group based in England, In July 1944, Colonel Gabreski was on furlough awaiting transportation directions, to the States when he volunteered to lead his squadron into Germany. Returning, he elected to hit a German air field that had many planes parked on it. On his second pass at the field, his prop tips hit a small rise in the runway, bending the prop tips with resultant engine VIBRATION, FORCING HIM TO MAKE A CRASH LANDING. He FLED FROM his aircraft and eluded the germans for five days. after being captured he was a prisoner of war for ten (10) months in stalag luft 1, was liberated by the russian army in april 1945. During his tour in the European Theatre of Operations, he flew 155 combat missions in british spitfires and american p~47 airplanes. After his liberation from the prisoner of war camp in May, 1945, Colonel Gabreskl returned to the United States and was assigned to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, as Chief of the Fighter Test Section. At this time, he attended the Engineering Flight Test School qualifying him as a test pilot. He remained in this capacity until April, 1946, when he separated from the Air Force to accept a position with, the Douglas Aircraft Corporation in California. In April, 1947, Colonel Gabreskl was recalled to active service and assigned as Commanding Officer of the 55th Fighter Squadron, 20th Fighter Group, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina. He served in this capacity until September, 1947, when he entered Columbia University under the Air Force Educational Program to study the Russian language and Political Science. In August, 1949, Colonel Gabreskl was reassigned to the 56th Fighter Group at Selfridge Air Force Base, Michigan, as Commanding Officer. In June, 1951, he was assigned to the 4th Fighter Interceptor Wing in Korea and later as Commander of the 51st Fighter Interceptor Wing. While with the 51st, Colonel Gabreskl became history's eighth "Jet Ace" on April 1, 1952. Colonel Gabreskl returned to the United States June 16, 1952, and was assigned to the Office of Inspector General, USAF, at Norton Air Force Base, California, where he was Chief of Combat Operations Section. In 1954, Colonel Gabreskl was chosen to attend the USAF Air War College at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, graduating in 1955. He vas then assigned to Headquarters, 9th Air Force, Shaw Air Force Base, South Carolina, as Deputy Chief of Staff, Operations. In the summer of 1956, he was assigned to Myrtle Beach Air Force Base, South Carolina, as Commander of the 354th Tactical Fighter Wing. After 4 years at Myrtle Beach, Colonel Gabreski was assigned to command the 18th Tactical Fighter Wing, F-100 Unit at Kadena Air Base, Okinawa. In 1962, he was selected by. General Emmet "Rosy" O'Donnell to be his Executive Officer at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii. In the summer of 1963, the Colonel assumed the post of Inspector General for the Pacific Air Forces. His last assignment before retiring from the military-was Commander of the 52nd Fighter Wing at Suffolk County Air Force Base, New York, from August 1964 to November 1967. Colonel Gabreski was integrated into the regular Air Force as.a First Lieutenant on May 29, 1947. On March 11, 1950, he was promoted to temporary rank of Colonel and attained his permanent rank of Colonel on December 1, 1959. As eighth "Jet Ace" in aerial history, he has accumulated over 5000 hours flying time, with 4000 hours of this being jet time, and is current in modern jet fighter aircraft. Colonel Gabreski's combined score of enemy aircraft destroyed during World War II and the Korean Conflict stands at 37-1/2 and cakes him top living Air Ace in the United States today.