First Recipient of Air Force-Designed Medal of Honor Dies

Col. Bernard Fisher, the first person awarded the Air Force-designed Medal of Honor, died Aug. 16 in Idaho at the age of 87, reported the Idaho Press-Tribune. President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded Fisher the Medal of Honor, the nation’s highest honor for valor in combat, on Jan. 19, 1967 for “personal action above and beyond the call of duty” in South Vietnam, according to an Air Force fact sheet. In 1966, then-major Fisher, who was assigned to the 1st Air Commando Squadron at Pleiku, South Vietnam, risked his life to save his wingman after he was shot down during the battle of A Shau Valley, a narrow strip below the demilitarized zone between North and South Vietnam. “Fisher landed his Douglas A-1E Skyraider on an airfield controlled by the enemy under the most intense ground fire, pulled the downed pilot aboard his aircraft, and successfully escaped despite several bullets striking the plane,” states the fact sheet. Fisher, who started his military career in the Navy, spent time in the Idaho Air National Guard before he received his Air Force commission in June 1951. In addition to the hundreds of close air support missions flown in his A-1E in Vietnam, Fisher also flew the F-80, F-86, and the F-101 throughout his career. He retired from the Air Force in 1974. He also is the recipient of the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, and the Bronze Star Medal, among others. (Air Combat Command Aug. 19 release) (National Museum of the US Air Force profile)