If ever a man has earned his place in the annals of military history, that man is Francis Gabby Gabreski. His exploits as a fighter pilot in World War II and Korea are legendary; his rise from humble beginnings to success in military and business career
The low-key memoir of an American fighter pilot who achieved ace status in two wars. Gabreski, the son of Polish immigrants who settled in Pennsylvania, nearly flunked out of Notre Dame but was nonetheless recruited by the Army Air Corps. In 1941, he was posted to Hawaii, where he lived through the attack on Pearl Harbor. Eager for action, Gabreski talked the Pentagon into assigning him to a Polish RAF squadron in England; he subsequently became the ETO's top ace, with 28 confirmed kills in 17 months of aerial combat. On the day the author was scheduled to return home to a hero's welcome, he flew one last mission and was shot down--and spent the last ten months of WW II behind the wire of a POW camp. Back in the States before V-J Day, Gabreski married his longtime sweetheart and left the military for a sales job at Douglas Aircraft. After almost two years of civilian life, however, he reenlisted with the rank of lieutenant colonel. Following a brief sojourn as a test pilot, Gabreski was sent to Korea in 1951 as a wing commander. Flying F-86 Sabrejets, he was credited with downing more than six enemy planes, making him a double ace. Retiring in 1967 as a full colonel, the author accepted an executive post with Grumman, where (save for a hectic two-year stint as the politically appointed president of the Long Island Railroad) he remained for the next 20 years. Gabreski devotes most of his understated text to matter-of- fact accounts of his combat experiences, leaving readers to speculate on just what made him such a deadly dogfighter. There's also a rather full roll call of erstwhile comrades in arms, most of whom add little to the narrative. These cavils apart, an often ingratiating memoir. (Sixteen pages of photographs--not seen.) -- Copyright ©1991, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
Gabreski was a top American ace in both WW II and Korea: in the European theater he downed a record 28 aircraft, and in Korea scored six kills. His accomplishments were perhaps astonishing because he came close to washing out in flight training. But his career had some other unusual twists as well. Son of Polish immigrants, Gabreski flew with a Polish squadron of the RAF before he joined the U.S. Air Force and, on the day he was to fly home after 166 missions, he was shot down and captured. He left the Air Force in 1967 and worked in the aircraft industry until 1978, when he became president of the Long Island Rail Road. He retired in 1987. His autobiography is a tale of high adventure and, with an assist from Molesworth, editor of the Skagit Valley Herald in Washington, he tells it with a matter-of-factness that heightens the impact. Photos not seen by PW.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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