Skip to comments.The FReeper Foxhole Profiles Major Bernie Fisher, 1st Air Commando Squadron, USAF - June 20th, 2004
Posted on 06/20/2004 12:01:28 AM PDT by snippy_about_it
are acknowledged, affirmed and commemorated.
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1st Air Commando Squadron, USAF
In early March 1966, a 450-man Special Forces camp in the A Shau Valley came under attack by a North Vietnamese force of two to four thousand. Mortar shells rained down on the camp.
The weather in the A Shau, a box canyon high in the mountains, was always bad, either raining or fogged in. An AC-47 managed to get in under the weather, though, to come to the camp's defense. The three hundred foot ceiling made the gunship an easy target. Ground fire disabled first one engine and then the other.
Responding to the MAYDAY, aircraft scrambled from Pleiku, Qui Nhon, and Nha Trang. Major Bernie Fisher, of the 1st Air Commando Squadron, was piloting an A-1E Skyraider. He and his wingman went in with orders to destroy the wreckage of the AC-47 to keep it out of enemy hands. Successful at that, they flew cover for two C-123 Providers carrying medical supplies and ordnance for the A Shau defenders. The Providers were hit hard by ground fire as they made their drops, but they managed to drop their bundles and escape from the valley. Major Fisher, low on fuel, also was forced to abandon the camp and return to base for fuel.
The next morning, the weather was a little better when Fisher was ordered back to the A Shau. The camp had just been overrun when Fisher and two other A-1s arrived on the scene. The A-1s began strafing passes over the camp. The A-1s would make a run, break left, and make another run. The North Vietnamese quickly saw the pattern and took advantage of it. The number three plane, flown by Major "Jump" Myers of the 602nd Air Commando Squadron, was hit at the end of a strafing pass. His engine quit and the aircraft caught fire. At so low an altitude, Myers had no choice; he had to ride the plane in. If the plane went into the jungle, he had little chance of surviving the crash. His only chance was the pierced steel planking (PSP) runway that served the camp. But the camp was now controlled by the North Vietnamese.
Myers pickled his bombload into the jungle and made for the PSP runway. He made a belly landing, skidding sideways nearly six hundred feet. The crippled plane hit a bank and became a large ball of flame.
Overhead, Fisher thought that Myers had died in the crash and reported it back to the command post. Just then, the smoke cleared momentarily and Myers ran out of the inferno. Fisher asked a nearby Marine helicopter for a rescue pickup and returned to the fight. When ten minutes had passed without a rescue chopper appearing, Fisher asked for an estimated time of arrival. The choppers were at least twenty minutes away. Myers was only twenty feet from capture, however.
Fisher decided to make the pickup himself. Flying through smoke and fire, he broke into the clear over the runway. In spite of the expended rocket casings and damage from mortar fire on the PSP runway, Fisher dropped his plane in. The plane skidded as he braked. The plane came to a stop in the fuel dump at the far end of the runway, hitting some of the barrels and damaging the A-1's wings and tail. Fisher turned the aircraft around and headed back up the runway toward the burning wreckage of Myers' aircraft. Myers jumped up as Fisher passed the burning A-1 and Fisher stopped his plane.
Myers ran for the A-1E, but could not get aboard because of the prop wash. Fisher throttled back and Myers clambered up the wing, falling head first into the cockpit. Without taking time to strap in, Fisher turned the plane around again and opened the throttle. Holding the plane down until the last possible moment, Fisher's A-1 raced down the runway and then leapt for the sky.
Major Bernard F. Fisher's bravery under fire as he risked his life to save a comrade from capture or death earned him an Air Force Medal of Honor. Fisher became the first recipient of the Air Force Medal of Honor in Vietnam.
During the Battle of A Shau on March 10, 1966, a C-123 crew flying in the vicinity of the Special Forces Camp taped the actual rescue as it was in progress. The tape was later given to Major Fisher as a souvenir. The recording was not started until after the initial decisions to rescue Major Dafford ("Jump") Myers were made and the first recorded sentences were of Fisher telling fellow Skyraider Pilots (Captains Franciso "Paco" VASQUEZ, 29, of Puerto Rico; John LUCAS, 28, of Steubenville, Ohio; and Dennis HAGUE, 28, of Kellogg, Idaho) how he planned to land on the debris- littered strip where Myers was down. Another pair of Skyraider pilots, Jim GUNTER and Pete HOUK, arrived as the rescue was unfolding. They flew cover for the takeoff portion of the rescue and then continued to hit the Viet Cong positions after the rescue was completed.
PIC Major Bernard F. Fisher and Lt Col Gene Deatrick, 1st Air Commando Squadron
GoodNight Snippy, Great thread today.
Just a quick "check-in" to let you know I'm still here ... :)
I really enjoyed the thread yesterday on the USS Juneau and the Sullivan Brothers ...... thanks! Having served on a later USS Juneau (while assigned to CTF 76 staff in the mid '80s, the USS Juneau was one of the flagships) I found the thread very interesting.
You and SAMWolf are doing a "bang-up" job here ..... WELL DONE
KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!
Happy Father's Day to all our Foxhole Dads!
Here are a few books I just finished reading. Thought I would let you all know about some good reads. I would say all deserve there own FoxHole Thread. ( hint;-)
Storm on the Horizon
Khafji - The Battle that Changed the Golf War
About the fate of pilots shot down over Chichi Jima And how George Bush missed getting invited to dinner.
Some good lines from the book:
Japanese pilot Mitsuo Fuchida ( led Pearl Harbor attack) in 1959 to Paul Tibbets
" You did the right thing. You know the Japanese attitude at that time, how fanatic they were, they'd die for the Emperor..... Every man, woman, child would have resisted that invasion with stick and stones if necessary..... Can you imagine what a slaughter it would be to invade Japan? It would have been terribie. The Japanese people know more about that than the American public will ever know."
Few people now reflect that Samurai swords killed more people in WWII than atomic bombs
Brave Men Gentle Heroes
American fathers and Sons in WWII and Vietnam
Adak: The Rescue of Alfa Foxtrot 586
The Author CAPTAIN Jampoler was my Squadron CO And VP-9 was our sister Squadron.
Hi Ho Hi Ho off to work we go
Will try to check in later to the Foxhole mean while... a Good Moring to all and to all a Good Morning.
Hopefully The Mayor will have the coffe ready by the time I get to work.
Oh Yeah I forget...HAPPY FATHERS DAY .
Good morning, Snippy and everyone at the Foxhole.
On This Day In History
Birthdates which occurred on June 20:
1566 Sigismund III, King of Poland/Sweden
1674 Nicholas Rowe England, poet laureate (Jane Shore, Tamerlane)
1763 Theobald Wolfe Tone, Irish nationalist
1819 Jacques Offenbach Cologne, French composer (Tales of Hoffmann)
1823 Jesse Lee Reno, Major General (Union volunteers), died in 1862
1824 John Tyler Morgan, Brig General (Confederate Army), died in 1907
1868 Helen Miller Shepard philanthropist/established Hall of Fame
1894 George Delacorte NYC, philanthropist/publisher (Dell Books)
1899 Jean Moulin hero of the French Resistance during WW II
1907 Lillian Hellman playwright (Toys in the Attic, Little Foxes)
1909 Errol Flynn actor (Captain Blood, Robin Hood, Against All Flags)
1919 Bruce Gordon London England, actor (Frank Nitti-Untouchables)
1920 DeForest Kelley Atlanta Ga, actor (Dr Leonard McCoy-Star Trek)
1924 Audie Murphy Kingston Tx, WWII hero/actor (Destry, Joe Butterfly)
1924 Chet Atkins Luttrell Tenn, guitarist (Me & My Guitar)
1928 Jean-Marie Le-Pen France, leader National Front party
1928 Martin Landau actor (Mission Impossible, Space 1999, Tucker)
1931 Olympia Dukakis, Lowell Mass, actress (Moonstruck, Cemetery Club)
1933 Danny Aiello NYC, actor (Moonstruck, Radio Days)
1942 Brian Wilson Inglewood Calif, singer (Beachboys-In My Room)
1944 Terry Funk, Hammond Ind, pro wrestler (WWF/NWA)/actor (Paradise Alley)
1945 David S Monson, (Rep-R-UT, 1985- )
1945 James F Buchli New Rockford ND, USMC/astr (STS 51C, 61A, 29, 48)
1950 Lionel Richie singer (Commodores, Hello, Penny Lover)
1952 John Goodman actor (Roseanne, Everyone's All American)
1957 Butch Patrick Inglewood Calif, actor (Real McCoys, Eddie-Munsters)
"The Fall of A Shau"
March 9, 1966 - At 0200 hours on the morning of 9 March, the camp was attacked with mortars, 75 mm recoilless rifles, automatic weapons, and small arms fire. In the initial attack, two Americans were killed and 30 wounded; Vietnamese casualties were eight killed and 30 wounded. The barrage destroyed the supply area for the 380-man camp. Medevac was requested along with air strikes. The enemy attack was broken off at daylight and the defenders began to repair and improve their defenses.
During the night, the ceiling over the camp was 300 to 500 feet with visibility of five miles. No air strikes were flown due to the poor weather. In preparation for further enemy attacks, the I Corps commander requested that a U. S. Marine Corps standby force be alerted for airlift into the A Shau area if weather permitted and if the need arose. Also, two Chinese Nung companies, one at Hue and one at Da Nang, were standing by for helilift to the camp when the weather permitted. The first air request was received at 0908 hours, but weather initially kept planes out of the area.
At 1120 hours, 9 March, an AC-47 was sent to the outpost. The crew was scrambled from bed, having flown the previous night. When the aircraft arrived over the camp, the pilot, Captain Willard M. Collins, was told by the ground forces that the camp was in imminent danger of being overrun. The ceiling was still around 400 feet but Captain Collins and his co-pilot, 1st Lt Delbert R. Peterson, made two attempts to penetrate the ceiling under visual flight conditions. A third attempt was made at treetop level and the plane was successful in reaching the fort. Under intense enemy ground fire from automatic weapons, including .50 calibers, the plane completed one pass at enemy troops surrounding the fort and on its second pass, had the right engine torn from the mounts by ground fire. The other engine was silenced seconds later. The plane crash-landed on a mountain slope, sliding to rest at the base. One crew member, SSgt Foster, broke both legs in the crash. The crew prepared a perimeter defense around the wreckage of the plane and wounded crew member, and in fifteen minutes the enemy attacked. This was repulsed but a second enemy attack killed the pilot, Capt Collins and SSgt Foster, the wounded airman.
A third attack began as a USAF H-43 rescue helicopter dropped down to pick up the crew. During this attack, Lt Peterson charged the enemy's .50 Caliber machine gun with his M-16 rifle and a .38 caliber Pistol to permit the rescue to take place. He was successful. The chopper picked up the other three survivors and took off under heavy enemy fire, leaving Peterson and the two dead men behind.
When the word was received that the AC-47 had been shot down, a flight of two A-lEs, led by Major Bernard F. Fisher, of the 1st Air Commando Squadron at Pleiku, was diverted to the scene. Locating a small hole in the overcast above five miles northwest of the camp, Major Fisher led his flight through the hole and down a mile-wide valley to the camp. The ceiling was about 500 feet and enemy automatic weapons fire, including .50 calibers, was trained on the planes. Receiving instructions to destroy the AC-47, Fisher assigned the task to his wingman and went to the assistance of the beseiged fort. Learning that enemy forces were preparing for a mass assault, he brought another flight of A-lEs into the box canyon area and directed their strikes on enemy positions less than a half mile from the fort. When this flight had expended, he directed a CH-3C helicopter into the fort to evacuate badly wounded personnel. He then returned above the overcast and brought in two C-123s to make a perilous paradrop of needed medical supplies and ammunition to the defenders. As the C-123s made their drop of some 6000 pounds on target, Fisher and his wingman suppressed hostile ground fire by strafing. Earlier, two U. S. Army Caribous had made drops of supplies to the fort which landed outride the compound, but were later retrieved.
Two B-57s joined the battle later, being led through the hole in the overcast by Fisher, who by that time, was dangerously low on fuel. The B-57s strafed and bombed enemy positions in the camp and around the AC-47 where numerous enemy troops were observed. The AC-47 was destroyed along with its valuable mini-guns around 1650 hours after napalm and bomb drops were observed making direct hits on it. In addition to the A-lE and B-57 strikes, two VNAF A-1H aircraft successfully penetrated the ceiling around 1330 hours, expending ammunition on enemy positions.
Throughout the daylight hours of the 9th, only 29 sorties could be flown in support of A Shau; 17 by the USAF, ten by the USMC, and two by the VNAF. The ground defenders, concerned about deteriorating weather and another enemy attack, repaired their defenses as well as they could and dug in for the night.
Old Glory is readied for the first trip to another world.
Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin deploy the first U.S. flag on the moon. (NASA JSC Photograph S69-40308).
Good morning PE, great Flag-o-gram. Yesterday, I saw for the first time "The Right Stuff," good flick.
Good Morning Feather.
Got any Beemis?
Morning Neil. Thanks for the kind words.
Hiya Sam. Happy dad's day.