Marcel Albert, French flying ace in World War II, dies in Texas at age 92

PARIS (AP) — Marcel Albert, a widely decorated World War II flying ace hailed as a hero of the French "Normandie-Niemen" squadron based in the Soviet Union, has died, officials and a relative said Wednesday. He was 92.

He died Monday of complications from cancer, said Albert's nephew, Jean Mavinger.

The office of France's veterans affairs minister, Hubert Falco, expressed condolences to Albert's former comrades-in-arms and "all the Russians who consider him a great hero."

France's Ordre de la Liberation said Albert died in Harlingen, Texas, where he moved and founded a hotel chain after the war. It said he was buried in Chipley, Florida.

The order — founded by Gen. Charles de Gaulle — said on its Web site that Albert flew 199 missions and holds the record of 24 "victories" for the Normandie-Niemen, including seven in October 1944 alone.

Mavinger described Albert as a dynamic if secretive man who rarely talked about his wartime experiences.

"He really didn't like to talk about it. All his friends died in Russia," Mavinger said by telephone from his home near Orly airport south of Paris. "It really affected him."

Mavinger said Albert, who had no children, is survived by a 96-year-old sister and nieces and nephews. He said Albert had wanted to be buried next to his American-born wife, who died and was interred in Florida last year.