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First Name: Charles

Last Name: Gabriel

Birthplace: Lincolnton, NC, USA

Gender: Male

Branch: Air Force (1947 - present)

Middle Name: Alvin

Date of Birth: 21 January 1928

Date of Death: 04 September 2003

Rank: General

Years Served: 1950-1986
Charles Alvin Gabriel

Graduate, U.S. Military Academy, Class of 1950

•  Korean War (1950 - 1953)
•  Vietnam War (1960 - 1973)


Charles Alvin Gabriel

General, U.S. Air Force

Charles Alvin Gabriel was born on 21 January 1928 in Lincolnton, NC. Following graduation from high school, he attended Catawba College in Salisbury, NC, for two years before entering the U.S. Military Academy. He graduated from the Academy in 1950 with a Bachelor of Science degree and a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force.

After graduation from the USMA, Gabriel entered pilot training at Goodfellow AFB, TX, and completed advanced training at Craig Air Force Base, AL, in December 1951. His first assignment was to South Korea, where he flew 100 combat missions in F-51 Mustangs and F-86 Sabres and was credited with shooting down two MiG-15s.

From December 1952 to November 1955, he was assigned to the 86th Fighter-Interceptor Wing, Landstuhl Air Base, Germany, as a pilot and later a Squadron Air Operations Officer. He then spent three years as an Air Officer commanding at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.

In July 1959, Gabriel transferred to Moody AFB, GA, where he served as Adjutant for the 3550th Pilot Training Group and Commander of the Headquarters Squadron Section. Following graduation from the Naval War College in August 1962 and completion of his Master's degree at George Washington University in August 1963, he was assigned as a Staff Officer in the Directorate of Plans, Headquarters USAF in Washington, DC. In August 1966, he entered the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.

Returning to Europe in August 1967, he served as Executive Officer to the Chief of Staff, Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE), Mons, Belgium. He returned to the U.S. for combat crew training in July 1970 and was subsequently assigned as Commander of the 432nd Tactical Reconnaissance Wing at Udon Royal Thai Air Force Base, Thailand, flying 152 combat missions in F-4 Phantom II aircraft. He returned to the Air Staff in July 1972, as Deputy for Operational Forces and Deputy Director of Operations.

Gabriel served as Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations at Headquarters Tactical Air Command, Langley Air Force Base, VA, from February 1975 to August 1977. He then became Deputy Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Forces Korea and Deputy Commander-in-Chief, United Nations Command, Seoul, South Korea. In April 1979, he returned to Air Force Headquarters as Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations, Plans and Readiness.

On 1 August 1980, Gabriel was promoted to the four-star rank of General and appointed as Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Air Forces in Europe (CINCUSAFE) and Commander of Allied Air Forces Central Europe (COMAAFCE) at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. While assigned as CINCUSAFE, Gen. Gabriel traveled to RAF Bentwaters and was briefed on the Rendlesham Forest Incident where U.S. Air Force personnel stated they had observed UFOs.

General Gabriel was appointed as Air Force Chief of Staff in 1982 and served until 1986.

He retired on 1 July 1986. During his service, Gabriel became a Command Pilot with over 4,200 flying hours.

While he was in the Air Force, Gabriel earned a Master of Science degree in Engineering Management from George Washington University in Washington, DC, in 1963. He graduated from the Command and Staff Course at the Naval War College, Newport, RI, in 1962; and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, Fort Lesley J. McNair, Washington, DC, in 1967.

Medals and Awards

Defense Distinguished Service Medal

Air Force Distinguished Service Medal

Legion of Merit (2 Awards)

Distinguished Flying Cross (5 Awards)

Air Medal (15 Awards)

Air Force Commendation Medal (2 Awards)

Presidential Unit Citation

Air Force Outstanding Unit Award

Federal Republic of Germany Merit Cross of the Federal Republic (Order of Merit)

Republic of Korea Order of National Security Merit (Gugseon Medal)

Republic of Korea Presidential Unit Citation


Command Pilot Badge
Joint Chiefs of Staff Identification Badge

Death and Burial

General Charles Alvin Gabriel died on 4 September 2003. He is buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, VA, in Section 54, Site 5435.

Honoree ID: 722   Created by: MHOH




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