Idaho Medal of Honor Recipient Dies at 87 Years Old
KUNA, Idaho (KTVB) — In 1966, Bernard Fisher, then an Air Force major and A-1E Skyraider pilot, heroically risked life and limb to rescue a fellow pilot who had crash-landed on an airstrip surrounded by enemy forces.
For his gallantry, Fisher was awarded the nation’s highest military honor – the Medal of Honor, becoming the first member of the Air Force to receive the award in Vietnam.
Col. Fisher died Saturday at the age of 87 at the Idaho Veterans Home in Boise.
The Kuna native had a long and distinguished military career, serving in the U.S. Navy, the Idaho Air National Guard, and the U.S. Air Force over the course of three decades.
But it was that fateful day – March 10, 1966 – that Fisher cemented his name in history.
Fisher was leading a group of Skyraiders in support of special forces troops, who were under assault by 2,000 enemy forces in Vietnam’s A Shau Valley. During the battle, Fisher saw a fellow airman crash-land on a debris-covered air strip. Believing that the pilot was injured, and with enemy soldiers closing in, Fisher made the risky decision to land on the airstrip and attempt a rescue. Under a barrage of enemy gunfire, Fisher swooped in, skidded to the end of the runway, picked up his wounded wingman, and despite his plane being riddled with bullets, flew out.
Ten months later, Fisher was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Lyndon B. Johnson. The citation reads, in part, “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his own life above and beyond the call of duty.”
Fisher served the remainder of his military career in the Air Force, before retiring and moving to Kuna where he worked on a family farm.
The Colonel Bernard Fisher Veterans Memorial Park in Kuna is named after him, as well as a park, a highway in Utah and a Military Sealift Command vessel.
In addition to the Medal of Honor, Fisher was also awarded the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, Bronze Star, and Air Medal.
The A-1 Skyraider that Fisher flew during the rescue has been restored and is now on display at the National Museum of the United States Air Force in Dayton, Ohio.