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"One man Air Force" by W. Meyers (autographed by Capt. Don S. Gentile) ~ 35% Off ~ Free Shipping

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  • Autographed by Captain Don S. Gentile signed in ink (fountain pen) on a 2¼” x 4¼” off-white card. It comes with a newspaper clipping from Minneapolis Star Monday January 29, 1951 announcing of the death of Capt. Gentile in a flying accident in a Air Force T-33 jet  trainer in which and another crew member were killed.
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$2,495.00
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$1,621.75 (You save $873.25)
SKU:
408 C
Weight:
10.00 LBS
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Product Description

Frame Size is: 30" x 34" 

 Autographed by Captain Don S. Gentile signed in ink (fountain pen) on a 2¼” x 4¼” off-white card. It comes with a Certificate of Authenticity. Also included is newspaper clipping from Minneapolis Star dated Monday January 29, 1951 announcing of the death of Capt. Gentile in a flying accident in a Air Force T-33 jet  trainer in which and another crew member were killed. 

"One Man Air Force"

by Wade Meyers 

Dominic Salvatore "Don" Gentile was born on December 6, 1920, to Italian parents in Piqua, Ohio. As a boy, he had always been fascinated with flying and built, as his mother remembered, hundreds of model airplanes. Don used to say to his mother, “I hope someday I'll be up there flying too.” As a teenager, he played football, baseball, and basketball and loved to swim. He was rather musically inclined and played the saxophone, drums, guitar, and clarinet. He had a sister, Edith, who was two years younger than himself. When Gentile was old enough his father would give him ‘date money’ to take out a girl but he would bring most of it to the bank and save it. Gentile knew that if he could only get enough money to buy an airplane he would be an ace of the air. When he was 17 Gentile first flew in an airplane. “At that time,” he said, “I felt I had come to the place where I belonged in the world. The air to me was what being on the ground was to other people. When I felt nervous it pulled me together. Where things got too much for me on the ground, they never got that way in the air.” Gentile continually pestered his parents about learning to fly his father began paying for half-an-hour flying time every Sunday. After he had soloed Gentile began pressing his parents to buy him an airplane and eventually he found a homemade airplane for $300 which he bought with his own money. After finding out that the airplane was a death trap and continuing to pester his parents again, Gentile finally got a brand new airplane. From then on he began harassing the town inhabitants of Piqua by buzzing the town. “On Saturday afternoons,” he said, “I would beat up the town in my airplane, and the cops chased me . . . I could see their cars running after me, trying to get my number. I'd raise the hair on everybody's head with my propeller. I’d blow in the curtains on Betty Levering's house and make the geraniums in Marge Dill's front yard give up their petals.” On September 1, 1939, when Hitler invaded Poland, Gentile knew he was destined to play a part in the war. Since the USAAF required two years in college he told his parents that if he could join the RAF, which didn’t require college, he could make his mark in the war. After much arguing and a whole year, Don Gentile finally got his wish and was driven to Cleveland to join up with the RAF. In September of 1940, he was flown to Canada to start his training. His instructor back home had given him a ‘better than average pilot’ rating and with that, he started RAF training. After he finished training Gentile joined the famed 133 ‘Eagle Squadron’ and claimed two kills while in the RAF during Operation Jubilee. In August 1942 the three Eagle Squadrons were transferred to the USAAF and formed the 4th Fighter Group. Captain Don Gentile’s best scoring months were from December 1943 to April 1944 and for many of his missions, he flew with his famed wingman, Capt. Johnny Godfrey. Being a ‘publicity kid’ Gentile gained a wide amount of fame. On April 11, 1944, three days after his last three kills, Gentile was awarded the DFC and called ‘one-man air force’ by General Eisenhower. One the last mission of his first tour the press gathered to film Gentile landing only to watch him come in too long on a buzz job and have to crash land his plane, ‘Shangri-La’. Thankfully Gentile only suffered minor shock. His commander, Don Blakeslee (who had already established the rule that anyone who ‘pranged his kite’ would be grounded and sent home), grounded him. Gentile went home on a war bonds tour to an adoring public and very happy sister Edith and parents.

Don Gentile claimed 30 air and ground kills and accumulated 350 hours of flying time. He is labeled as the ‘Ace of Aces’, ‘One-Man Air Force’, and Godfrey and he were called the ‘Damon and Pythias’ team by Winston ChurchillDon Gentile authored his autobiography ‘One-Man Air force’ that was published in 1944. 

IN MEMORIAM

 'I remember Don Gentile, Piqua, Ohio Central high school class of 1941, who was a daredevil private pilot early on, and went to war, first the RCAF, then USAAF, in England, where he became a leading ace with more than 20 victories, transferred to USAF, met tragic end in T-33 crash in Washington'

Remembered by John Korovilos, Trenton, MI

Awards

  • Air Medal with 3 oak leaf clusters
  • American Campaign Medal
  • Croix de Guerre
  • Distinguished Service Cross with 1 oak leaf cluster
  • Silver Star
  • World War II Victory Medal
  • Distinguished Flying Cross (British)
  • Distinguished Flying Cross with 7 oak leaf clusters
  • European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with 1 silver star and 1 bronze star

 


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