Col. Bernard F. Fisher is the first living USAF recipient of the Medal of Honor. Moreover, he is the first USAF member to receive the medal from Vietnam.
Born in 1927, the native of Idaho served briefly in the Navy at the end of World War II and then spent the period from 1947 to 1950 in the Air National Guard before receiving his Air Force commission in 1951. After pilot training, then-Maj. Fisher served as a jet fighter pilot in the Air Defense Command until 1965 when he volunteered for duty in Vietnam. From July 1965 through June 1966 he flew 200 combat sorties in the A-1E/H "Spad" as a member of the 1st Air Commando Squadron located at Pleiku Air Base, South Vietnam.
On March 10, 1966, he led a two-ship of Skyraiders to the A Shau Valley in support of friendly troops in contact with the enemy. A total of six Spads were striking numerous emplacements when the A-1 piloted by Maj. Wayne "Jump" Myers was hit and forced to crash-land into the A Shau. Maj. Myers bellied in on the 2,500-foot runway and took cover behind an embankment on the edge of the strip while Maj. Fisher directed the rescue effort. Since the closest helicopter was 30 minutes away and the enemy was only 200 yards from Maj. Myers, Maj. Fisher quickly decided to land his two-seat A-1E on the strip and pick up his friend. Under the cover provided by the other A-1s, he landed in the valley, taxied to Maj. Myers' position and loaded the downed airman into the empty seat. Dodging shell holes and debris on the steel planked runway, Maj. Fisher took off safely despite many hits on his aircraft by small arms fire.
Maj. Fisher returned to the United States, and on Jan. 19, 1967, he was awarded the Medal of Honor by President Lyndon B. Johnson. Maj. Fisher returned to the Air Defense Command and jet interceptors until he retired at the rank of colonel to his hometown of Kuna, Idaho.