Frank Gailer, in a post-war photo

Frank Gailer, in a post-war photo

First Lt. Frank L. Gailer Jr.

Ace of the 357th Fighter Group

By , Dec. 2002. Updated July 6, 2011.

Frank Lewis Gailer was born in Bakersfield, California on , and grew up in Great Neck, Long Island. He graduated from Staunton Military Academy, Staunton, Virginia in 1941 and attended Hofstra College, Hempstead, New York, until June 1942. He then entered the aviation cadet program and subsequently graduated at Eagle Pass, Texas where he earned his pilots wings and commission as a second lieutenant in the US Army Air Force on 30 August 1943.

In February 1944 Gailer was sent to P-40 training at Thomasville, Georgia, and in July joined the 353rd Fighter Squadron, 357th Fighter Group in England as a P-51 pilot. He shared in the destruction of three German fighters in September - an Me-109 on the 13th, a FW-190 on the 18th, and another '109 the next day - before scoring one of his own, a FW-190 downed southwest of Zeitz on 7 October. He was credited with an Me-109 five days later and became an ace on 27 November with the destruction of two FW-190s 15 miles southeast of Magdeburg. Shot down shortly after, he was captured by the Germans and interned in Stalag Luft 1.

Gailer returned to the United States in 1945 and until June 1946 served as base flight operations officer at Selfridge Field, Michigan. He was then assigned to the Panama Canal Zone as a squadron commander in the 6th Fighter Wing until January 1949. Following assignments included duty in Latin America, the Air Training Command, command of the 35th Tactical Fighter Wing flying F-100s in Vietnam 1968-69 and command of the 48th Tactical Fighter Wing in England 1969-70. Promoted to brigadier general, he served as vice commander of 3rd Air Force prior to his retirement on 1 August 1972, then moved to San Antonio, Texas where he entered the investments business.

Tally record: 5½ confirmed

Decorations: Legion of Merit with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart and the Air Medal with 20 OLCs

Source: American Fighter Aces Album, copyright 1996 by the American Fighter Aces Association, Mesa, Arizona, reproduced here by permission