On March 10, 1966, Maj. (later Col.) Bernard F. Fisher performed an act of courage that earned him the U.S. Air Force's first Medal of Honor in the Southeast Asia War.
The setting for this action was the A Shau Valley -- a narrow, 25-mile long valley below the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between North and South Vietnam and near the Laotian border. Part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, the A Shau Valley was a major route for the flow of supplies to the communists in northern South Vietnam.
To stop this flow of communist supplies, the U.S. Army Special Forces established a camp at the southern end of the A Shau Valley. Out of range of friendly artillery units, the camp relied upon air power for support. Taking advantage of bad weather that protected them from air attacks, the communists attacked the camp in March 1966.
Low clouds covered the valley walls and formed a ceiling just a few hundred feet above the valley floor. Therefore, air attacks had to come straight down the valley, making the USAF and VNAF aircraft easy targets for enemy gunners on the hillsides.
Fisher and his wingman, Maj. Wayne "Jump" Myers, ignored the low clouds and repeatedly strafed the communists with their A-1E Skyraiders. During one pass, Myers' aircraft was hit and caught fire. Too low to bailout, Myers crash-landed his aircraft on the small airstrip at the Special Forces camp and ran to cover alongside the runway. Knowing that his wingman would be captured or killed before a rescue helicopter could arrive, Fisher landed his A-1E on the heavily damaged runway. As other Skyraiders provided cover, Myers jumped into Fisher's aircraft and they escaped amid heavy small arms fire.
For these heroic actions, President Lyndon B. Johnson awarded Fisher the Medal of Honor on Jan. 19, 1967. The aircraft on display at the museum is the A-1E flown by Fisher on his Medal of Honor mission.