Gentile, Dominic Salvatore “Don”, born 06-12-1920 in Piqua, Ohio,
the son of Italian immigrants Patsy and Josephina Gentile, who immigrated in 1907. After a fascination with flying as a child, his father provided him with his own plane, an Aerosport Biplane. He managed to log over 300 hours flying time by July 1941, when he attempted to join the Army Air Forces.
He was the WWII USAF
pilot who was the first to break Eddie Rickenbacher’s WWI record of 26 downed aircraft. Rickenbacher died at the age of 82 of a stroke, on 27-07-1973.
The U.S. military required two years of college for its pilots, which Gentile did not have, therefore Gentile originally enlisted in the Royal Canadian Air Force
and was posted to the UK in 1941. Gentile flew the Supermarine Spitfire Mark V with No. 133 Squadron, nickname “Eagles”
, one of the famed “Eagle Squadron” during 1942. Gentile here with the ace Captain John Goddfrey
became a flight commander in September 1943, now flying the P-47 Thunderbolt. After downing 3 planes on April 8, he was the top scoring 8th
Air Force ace when he crashed his personal P-51, named “Shangri La”,
on on 13-04-1944 while stunting over the 4th
FG’s airfield at Debden for a group of assembled press reporters and movie cameras. Colonel Donald “Don” Blakeslee
Death and burial ground of Gentile, Dominic Salvatore “Don”.
After the war, he stayed with the Air Force, as a test pilot at Wright Field, as a Training Officer in the Fighter Gunnery Program, and as a student officer at the Air Tactical School. Don was killed in a flying accident, 28-01-1951, age 30 – Don & Sgt. Gregory D. Kirsch
had taken off from Andrews Air Force Base and were 20 minutes into a proficiency flight when their T-33 trainer crashed in a T-33A-1-LO Shooting Star trainer, 49-905 as he was turning low to try and make an open field, his wingtip clipped trees on a farm near Forestville, Maryland. Gentile was thrown out of the plane and a series of small explosions inside the craft threw flaming parts over a large area. Gregory Kirsch was assigned to airways communications at Andrews field near here. Officials there said he had “gone along for the ride” on Gentile’s flight. Unmarried, Kirsch was the son of Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Kirsch, Box 605, Crawford Avenue, Spangler, Pennsylvania. He enlisted in the Air Force in 1948 on graduation from high school at Spangler. Both men were killed.
called Gentile and his wingman
, Captain John T. Godfrey , Damon and Pythias, after the legendary characters from Greek mythology. He was inducted into the National Aviation Hall of Fame in 1995. He was the son of immigrant Italians and their greatest pride. His parents, Pasquale and Josephine Gentile, owner of a cafe, were stunned in Piqua as were many of the townsfolk. The handsome, dark and rangy flier was their hero. He was called “Captain Courageous” once by the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt