Bernard F Fisher
Bernard, or Bernie, was born on the 11th of January, 1927 in San Bernardino, California and was raised in Clearfield, Utah. He was able to serve briefly in World War 2 with the US Navy and once the war ended, Bernie enrolled in college. He started at Boise State Junior College in 1947 and then transferred to the University of Utah in 1949. Bernie was a member of the Idaho Air National Guard from 1947 to 1951 when he was then commissioned into the Air Force. He went through pilot training and then served as a jet fighter pilot in the Air Defense Command until 1965. At this time, Bernie volunteered to be deployed to the Republic of Vietnam. Here he flew two hundred combat sorties as a member of the 1st Air Commando Squadron. It was his actions while leading a two ship element of Skyraiders to the A Shau Valley on the 10thof March, 1966, that would earn him the Medal of Honor. The citation reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty. On that date, the special forces camp at A Shau was under attack by 2,000 North Vietnamese Army regulars. Hostile troops had positioned themselves between the airstrip and the camp. Other hostile troops had surrounded the camp and were continuously raking it with automatic weapons fire from the surrounding hills. The tops of the 1,500-foot hills were obscured by an 800 foot ceiling, limiting aircraft maneuverability and forcing pilots to operate within range of hostile gun positions, which often were able to fire down on the attacking aircraft. During the battle, Maj. Fisher observed a fellow airman crash land on the battle-torn airstrip. In the belief that the downed pilot was seriously injured and in imminent danger of capture, Maj. Fisher announced his intention to land on the airstrip to effect a rescue. Although aware of the extreme danger and likely failure of such an attempt, he elected to continue. Directing his own air cover, he landed his aircraft and taxied almost the full length of the runway, which was littered with battle debris and parts of an exploded aircraft. While effecting a successful rescue of the downed pilot, heavy ground fire was observed, with 19 bullets striking his aircraft. In the face of the withering ground fire, he applied power and gained enough speed to lift-off at the overrun of the airstrip. Maj. Fisher's profound concern for his fellow airman, and at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty are in the highest traditions of the U.S. Air Force and reflect great credit upon himself and the Armed Forces of his country.
Bernie returned to the States and soon after, on the 19th of January, 1967, he received the Medal of Honor from President Johnson. He continued to serve in the Air Force until his retirement as a colonel in 1974 and went on to run as a candidate for governor in Idaho. Bernie never got to finish his degree from the University of Utah due to his commission into the Air Force and deployment but on the 3rd of May, 2008, 57 years after first attending classes and six days after the death of his wife Realla, Bernie received his degree and was recognized for his achievements. Bernard Francis Fisher died on the 16th of August, 2014 at the age of 87, is one of nineteen Air Force Medal of Honor Recipients, and is buried in the Idaho State Veterans Cemetery; section 12-1-142.