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USAF Aces of Two Wars

Francis S. Gabreski, stepping out of his F-86. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Francis S. Gabreski, stepping out of his F-86. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Francis S. Gabreski (left) congratulates another World War II and Korean War ace, Maj. William T. Whisner (center). On the right is Lt. Col. George Jones, a MiG ace with 6.5 kills. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Francis S. Gabreski (left) congratulates another World War II and Korean War ace, Maj. William T. Whisner (center). On the right is Lt. Col. George Jones, a MiG ace with 6.5 kills. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- USAF Aces of Two Wars exhibit in the Korean War Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

DAYTON, Ohio -- USAF Aces of Two Wars exhibit in the Korean War Gallery at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Col. Vermont Garrison during the Korean War. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Col. Vermont Garrison during the Korean War. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Col. Harrison Thyng in the cockpit of his F-86 during the Korean War. He commanded the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Col. Harrison Thyng in the cockpit of his F-86 during the Korean War. He commanded the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo)

Many American pilots with World War II experience fought in Korea. Francis Gabreski, Vermont Garrison and Harrison Thyng were three of the six USAF Korean War aces who were also WWII aces. (The others were Majs. George Davis Jr., James Hagerstrom and William Whisner.)

Francis "Gabby" Gabreski was the top American ace in air-to-air victories over Europe during WWII with 28 officially credited kills. While strafing a German airfield in July 1944, the propeller on his P-47 struck the ground, and Gabreski crash-landed. He was captured and sent to Stalag Luft I near Barth, Germany, where he spent the remainder of the war. Returning to combat during the Korean War, he commanded the 51st Fighter-Interceptor Wing and scored an additional 6.5 victories. Gabreski retired from the USAF as a colonel in October 1967.

Vermont Garrison originally flew Spitfires and Hurricanes in the Royal Air Force prior to transferring to the U.S. Army Air Forces in 1943. He was credited with 7.33 victories before being shot down and captured by the Germans. Garrison, like Gabreski, spent the rest of the war as a POW at Stalag Luft I. He went to Korea in November 1952, and while flying F-86s, he shot down 10 MiG-15s. He retired from the USAF as a colonel in March 1973.

Harrison Thyng achieved five kills in the Mediterranean Theater during WWII. Assigned to Korea in November 1951, he commanded the 4th Fighter-Interceptor Wing and shot down five Soviet-built MiG-15s. He retired from the USAF as a brigadier general in April 1966.

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