An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Remembering a true American hero: Medal of Honor recipient goes west

  • Published
Airmen, past and present, mourn the loss of a fellow Airman and a true American hero.

Air Force Medal of Honor recipient retired Col. Bernard Fisher passed away Aug. 16.

In 1967, then Maj. Fisher, became the first living Air Force Medal of Honor recipient when he was presented the medal at a White House ceremony by former President Lyndon B. Johnson. Fisher risked his own life, going above and beyond the call of duty to save a fellow pilot who had been shot down at A Shau Air Base during the battle of A Shau Valley, Vietnam, March 10, 1966.

"We pause to remember the life and legacy of an American hero," said Col. David Iverson, the 366th FW commander. "Bernie's life is an inspiration to those who met him and to all Airmen who will continue to hear his story. The men and women of Mountain Home Air Force Base were blessed to have a special relationship with Col. Fisher. He visited and mentored Airmen on numerous occasions, sharing his philosophy and leadership advice. We are truly honored to have had him as part of the Gunfighter family and our heritage. Our deepest sympathy goes out to the Fisher family during this time."

Fisher, who was born January 11, 1927, in San Bernadino, California, grew up in Clearfield, Utah, and first called Kuna, Idaho, home after his discharge from the Navy V-6 program in 1946. Fisher attended Boise Junior College from 1947 to 1949 and then transferred to the University of Utah where he participated in the ROTC and would receive his commission.

His first operational assignment was with the 42nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron, later re-designated the 63rd FIS, flying F-86D Saber jets out of O'Hare Field, Chicago.

In December 1955, Fisher was assigned to Chitose Air Base, Japan, where he flew with the 339th FIS. After completion of Interceptor Controller School in 1958, he was assigned to the 801st Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, Malmstrom AFB, Montana, as a weapons controller. In February 1961, he was reassigned to the 29th FIS where he flew F-101B Voodoos.

In May 1963, Fisher was assigned to the 319th FIS, Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida, where he flew the F-104 Starfighter. It was during this assignment that he volunteered for duty in Vietnam to fly the A-1E Skyraider.

Fisher arrived in Vietnam in July 1965. While assigned to the 1st Air Commando Squadron at Pleiku, South Vietnam, he received nationwide publicity for his actions during the battle of A Shau Valley in which he rescued a downed pilot by landing his Skyraider on a shrapnel-ridden runway and under heavy ground fire.

In 1968, Fisher was transferred to Bitburg Air Base, Germany, and subsequently assumed command of the 525th FIS. Later he became the operations officer of the 87th FIS in Duluth, Minnesota.

Fisher arrived at the Air National Guard’s 124th Fighter Interceptor Group in Boise, Idaho in July 1971 and retired from this assignment July 30, 1974, making Kuna, Idaho his permanent home.

(Courtesy of the 366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs Office)