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Harry Guggenheim, Francis Gabreski, Kevin Kregel to be inducted into Long Island Air & Space Hall of Fame

Newsday cofounder Harry Guggenheim; astronaut Kevin Kregel, who

Newsday cofounder Harry Guggenheim; astronaut Kevin Kregel, who grew up in Amityville; and World War II ace, Lt. Col. Francis Gabreski, are three new inductees in the Long Island Air & Space Hall of Fame. Credit: Getty Images / NASA / AP

A commander of space shuttles, a 20th century philanthropist and a top ace of World War II have gotten the call.

The inductees will be honored June 8 at the Cradle of Aviation Museum in Garden City, home to the Long Island Air & Space Hall of Fame. Joining 19 past honorees are: Harry Guggenheim, the publisher, pilot, diplomat and financier of other aviators; Francis Gabreski, the World War II ace; and Kevin Kregel, who grew up in Amityville and led missions to the International Space Station.

Kregel, 58, lives in Arizona and is a commercial pilot for Southwest Airlines. He is expected to attend the luncheon.

Gabreski, for whom Suffolk County's Westhampton Beach airport is named, died in 2002; and Guggenheim, who founded Newsday with his wife, Alicia Patterson, died in 1971.

Representatives from the Guggenheim and Gabreski families are expected to attend.

The museum, which opened in 2002, began the Hall of Fame seven years ago.

Executive director Andrew Parton said the museum traditionally honors Long Islanders -- or "people who spent a fair amount of time here and created a historic milestone on Long Island for aviation or aerospace."

While the museum is populated with aviation relics -- including an original lunar module -- the Hall of Fame exhibit is a way to highlight the people who built or piloted the technology, Parton said.

"We look to a lot of aviation museums, and it's all about the planes," Parton said.

"We like to think it's about the people behind the planes, and about the people behind the engineering and design."

Past hall of famers include Charles Lindbergh and Elinor Smith.

Guggenheim, who lived in Sands Point, had served in the U.S. Navy Reserve in Europe during World War I as part of the First Yale Unit -- considered the first Naval air reserve unit.

He financed the research of Robert Goddard, "the father of modern rocketry," Parton said.

And Guggenheim, a close friend of Charles Lindbergh, sponsored Lindbergh's tours into the United States and South America in an effort to promote aviation.

Lindbergh wrote much of his biography, "We," at Guggenheim's Sands Point estate, called Falaise, said North Hempstead Town Historian Howard Kroplick.

He said that Guggenheim "had a lifelong interest in aviation," and gave "high profile" support to the aviation industry at a critical time.

Guggenheim's funding for Goddard, said Kroplick, afforded him credibility and was pivotal to his success.

Kregel graduated from Amityville Memorial High School in 1974 and the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1978.

On his missions for NASA, astronauts brought equipment to build the space station.

According to NASA, he was spacecraft commander on the Columbia and Endeavor shuttles.

Gabreski, who lived in Dix Hills, was considered a top fighter ace in Europe during World War II, having destroyed 28 enemy aircraft.

He was also a jet fighter ace in the Korean War.

As a civilian, he served as an executive at Grumman Aerospace and later as president of the Long Island Rail Road.

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