Bernard Francis “Bernie” Fisher was born January 11, 1927. He was a retired United States Air Force officer and a recipient of the U.S. military’s highest decoration, the Medal of Honor, being the first member of the Unites States Air Force to win the honor.
Raised and educated in Utah, he served briefly in the navy at the end of WWII before returning to attend college in Idaho and Utah.
After volunteering for duty in Vietnam, he flew 200 combat sorties in the A-1E/H “Spad” Skyraider as part of the 1st Air Commando Squadron in South Vietnam.
On March 10, 1966 he flew a mission to the A Shau Valley in support of troops. A fellow A-1 pilot was hit and forced to crash land on the airstrip of the special forces camp that was under attack by enemy troops.
The pilot managed to crash land his plane and took cover from enemy that were only 200 yards away. The base was under attack by over 2,000 North Vietnamese army regulars. The enemy was positioned between the camp and the airstrip so rescue from the camp was not possible. Fisher decided to land his plane on the 2,500 foot runway, taxi through potholes and aircraft debris to where Major D. W. “Jump” Myers was taking cover and load him into his empty back seat. Air cover was provided by the other A-1s in the area. To complicate matters, the surrounding 1,500 foot tall hills were barely visible with an 800 foot cloud ceiling allowing enemies to fire down onto planes operating below them. His plane was hit multiple times during this rescue by enemy fire.
On January 19, 1967, he was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor by President Lyndon B. Johnson. He retired to Kuna, Idaho, after finishing his career flying jet interceptors for the Air Defense Command.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, Fisher ran for Idaho governor in 1981, finished his university degree in May, 2008 from University of Utah and has been recognized numerous times for his heroics.
In addition to Bernie Fisher Park in Kuna, his name is also adorns a second park in Clearfield, Utah, a section of Highway 193 in Utah, a meeting room at Kadena Air Base in Japan, and is on a Military Sealift Command Vessel, the MV Maj. Bernard F. Fisher (T-AK-4396).
With his permission in 2010, the Boise Rescue Mission adopted a quote said by Fisher after his rescue for their homeless veterans transitional living program.
“When a man is down, you don’t leave him there.”
His damaged A-1E that he flew has been saved and is on display at the National Museum of the USAF at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, Ohio.