By Carl Molesworth
If ever a guy has earned his position within the annals of army background, that guy is Francis Gabby Gabreski. His exploits as a fighter pilot in global battle II and Korea are mythical; his upward thrust from humble beginnings to good fortune in army and enterprise occupation
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Additional info for Gabby: A Fighter Pilot’s Life
He reassured me that he thought I was as ready as I'd ever be, and that meant a lot coming from him. Finally, we shook hands next to my Spitfire, and it was time to go. I climbed up on back of the port side wing root of my Spit and then, facing forward, swung my right leg into the cockpit. Next I maneuvered the parachute strapped to my bottom into position and settled down on it in the bucket seat. I hooked up the radio and oxygen leads to my mask, turned the radio to the proper channel, and prepared to start the engine: brakes on; throttle open about a third; several pumps to prime the engine; thumbs up to the airman manning the battery cart; start engine.
The Flying Tigers were fighting in Burma and China, the Eagle squadrons were flying with England's Royal Air Force, and our own air force was being pushed back from the Philippines and Java on down to New Guinea and Australia. The only change of pace I got was a temporary deployment to Barking Sands on the island of Kauai, where we did some gunnery training. We roughed it at Barking Sands, living in tents next to the bare airstrip and testing the ability of a squadron to live on field rations under those conditions.
We were corning in too hot, and we didn't touch down until we were about halfway down the runway. The trees at the end of the runway were coming up fast, so I jumped on the brake pedals for all I was worth. By the time we ran off the runway into the mud we had slowed down quite a bit. The big plane sank in and mushed to a stop. They didn't have the proper equipment on the field to hoist the B-24 out of the mud, so we had to jack the wheels up and put planks under them, then literally push the plane back onto the runway.