French WWII flying ace Marcel Albert dies: statement

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Marcel Albert, a flying ace in the French resistance who won dozens of air fights against German pilots in World War II, died aged 92 in the United States, a French honorary body announced Tuesday.

Albert, an air force pilot who rose to lead French squadrons on the eastern front after joining the resistance, died at a nursing home in Texas overnight Sunday to Monday, said the Order of the Liberation in a statement.

Born in Paris in November 1917, Albert worked in a Renault car factory as a youth before training as a pilot and joining the French air force shortly before Germany invaded.

In 1941, "refusing defeat and inactivity," he escaped to Britain, joined the resistance and flew fighter missions in France and then on the Soviet front aboard a Russian Yak fighter, said the Order, which awards France's second-highest honour to France's heroes.

There are now just 39 Companions of the Liberation still alive, including Roland de La Poype, 90, who like Albert served in the Normandie-Niemen squadron which distinguished itself on the eastern front.

As well as being named a Companion of the Liberation, Albert received France's highest decoration, the Legion of Honour, and was named a Hero of the Soviet Union -- all by the age of 28.

France's second top flying ace of World War II with 24 successful dogfights to his name, Captain Marcel Albert left the army in 1948 and headed to the United States, where he opened a chain of hotels.

© 2010 AFP

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