Bernie Fisher was born on January 11, 1927, in San Bernardino, California. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy on February 10, 1945, and served until March 16, 1946. Fisher next enlisted in the Idaho Air National Guard on July 15, 1947, and served until he received a commission in the U.S. Air Force on June 11, 1951. After completing Undergraduate Pilot Training in April 1953, Fisher served as an interceptor pilot in Japan with Pacific Air Forces and then in Air Defense Command, flying out of Malmstrom AFB, Montana, and Homestead AFB, Florida. He began flying combat missions in Southeast Asia after transitioning into A-1 Skyraiders in 1965. Fisher flew with the 1st Air Commando Squadron out of Bien Hoa AB and then Pleiku AB, in the Republic of Vietnam from July 1965 to June 1966.
In March 1966, while he was assigned to Pleiku, South Vietnam with the 602nd Air Commando Squadron, the U.S.-held outpost in the A Shau Valley, near the border of Laos and just off the Ho Chi Minh Trail, was considered an important piece of real estate by both sides. On March 10, the special forces camp was under attack by 2,000 North Vietnamese Army regulars. Hostile troops had surrounded the camp and were 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.
Fisher found a hole in the clouds and, followed by other A-1E's, attacked the enemy force. His wingman, Maj. D. Wayne Myers, was hit by enemy fire and called for help. He was too close to the ground to bail out and had no choice but to belly in on the badly damaged runway, which was under enemy control. Myers landed, but since he wasn't able to release his belly tank, his plane exploded into flames. He jumped from the burning aircraft and ran to a bordering ditch. Fisher knew that it would take at least 20 minutes for a rescue helicopter to reach the scene, so he decided to rescue Myers himself. He landed on the runway and maneuvered between oil barrels, rocket casings and fragments of aircraft and holes blasted by mortar fire. He skidded his A-1E to a stop at the end of the runway, turned his aircraft around and taxied back toward Myers' burning plane. As he approached the plane, Myers jumped up from the ditch and ran toward him. Myers couldn't climb up on the wing because of prop wash, so Fisher throttled back, reached out, grasped Myers and pulled him into the cockpit headfirst. Then, evading enemy fire and the crowded runway, took off, cleared the mountains and made it back to Pleiku. When he landed, crews counted 19 bullet holes in the aircraft. For his actions, Maj. Fisher was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Lyndon B. Johnson Jan. 19, 1967.
After returning from Vietnam with over 200 combat missions, Fisher served with the 496th Fighter Interceptor Squadron out of Hahn AB, West Germany, and then with the 525th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Bitburg AB, West Germany. In October 1969, he became Operations Officer with the 87th Fighter Interceptor Squadron at Duluth International Airport, Minnesota, serving in this squadron until June 1971, when he became Senior Air Force Advisor for the 25th Air Division at Gowen Air National Guard Base in Boise, Idaho. Colonel Fisher retired from the Air Force on June 30, 1974 and returned to Kuna, Idaho. Bernie Fisher died on August 16, 2014 in Boise, Idaho at age 87.
Medal of Honor citation
General Orders: Special Orders No. GB-41, January 23, 1967 Action Date: March 10, 1966; Service: Air Force; Rank: Major Company: 1st Air Commando Squadron; Regiment: 14th Air Commando Wing
The President of the United States of America, in the name of Congress, takes pleasure in presenting the Medal of Honor to Major Bernard Francis Fisher, United States Air Force, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Pilot with the 1st Air Commando Squadron, 14th Air Commando Wing, in action near Bien Hoa and Pleiku, Republic of Vietnam. On 10 March 1966, 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, Major 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, Major 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. Major 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.
Maj. Fisher and Maj. Meyers after the rescue.
"Downed, but not forgotten." - artwork by Stan Stokes
Silver Star citation
General Orders: Headquarters, 7th Air Force, Special Orders No. G-773 (September 26, 1966); Action Date: 9-Mar-66; Service: Air Force; Rank: Major; Company: 1st Air Commando Squadron; Regiment: 14th Air Commando Wing
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, July 9, 1918, takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Major Bernard Francis Fisher, United States Air Force, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action against the enemy while serving as a Pilot with the 1st Air Commando Squadron, 14th Air Commando Wing, in action against an opposing armed force at A Shau, Republic of Vietnam, on 9 March 1966. On that date, Major Fisher led a flight of two A-1Es in support of the defense of A Shau Special Forces camp which was under heavy attack by an estimated 2,000 North Vietnamese Army regulars. Despite extremely adverse weather conditions and intense and accurate hostile automatic weapons and anti-aircraft artillery fire, Major Fisher remained in the mountain valley below the low overcast for over two hours in order to guarantee desperately needed resupply of ammunition and medical supplies, medical evacuation, and fighter support. With outstanding gallantry and dedication, he used every skill at his command to rendezvous with four flights of support aircraft in dense weather and then led them to the embattles camp. On each of these four occasions, he was subjected to heavy ground fire yet he continued his task and provided vitally necessary fire suppression for each flight as they assisted the camp defenders. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Major Fisher has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
Legion of Merit citation
Action Date: June 9, 1971 - June 30, 1974; Service: Air Force; Rank: Colonel
The President of the United States of America, authorized by Act of Congress, 20 July 1942, takes pleasure in presenting the Legion of Merit to Colonel Bernard Francis Fisher, United States Air Force, for exceptionally meritorious conduct in the performance of outstanding services to the Government of the United States as the Air Force Senior Advisor to the 124th Fighter Interceptor Group, Aerospace Defense Command, from 9 June 1971 to 30 June 1974. In this important assignment, the leadership, exemplary foresight, and ceaseless efforts consistently demonstrated by Colonel Fisher resulted in significant contributions to the effectiveness and success of the 124th Fighter Interceptor Group. The singularly distinctive accomplishments of Colonel Fisher culminate a distinguished career in the service of his country, and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.
C o p y r i g h t (C) 2 0 1 7 – H e a t h R o b i s o n / I d a h o H e r o e s . o r g