Medal of Honor Recipient Visits Kunsan
Air Force Print News | SrA Steven R. Doty | February 27, 2008

KUNSAN AIR BASE, South Korea – There are few opportunities allowing Airmen to gain first-hand insights on the history and achievements of the Air Force, which have helped shaped the foundation of the organization, while at the same time, inspiring Airmen of all ranks.One of the military’s most valued and respected achievements is the Medal of Honor. Kunsan Air Base had the chance to host the first Air Force living recipient of the Medal of Honor Feb. 26 here.

Retired Col. Bernard F. Fisher, the first Air Force member to receive the medal as a result of an act of heroism during the Vietnam War without being killed in action, was one of numerous heroes of the past displaying the Air Forces’ core values of “Integrity First,” “Service Before Self” and “Excellence In All We Do.”

He visited Kunsan AB as part of a visit to see one of his sons, Maj. Steven Fisher, the 7th Air Force chief of training, at Osan AB, South Korea.

“My son had been stationed at Kadena AB in Okinawa and then went to Osan (AB),” said Colonel Fisher. “We hadn’t seen him in a while and decided in the process of visiting him, to come down to Kunsan (AB) and visit the troops with the commander’s permission.”

According to his citation, Colonel Fisher observed a fellow Airman crash land on the battle-torn airstrip and despite the extreme danger and likely failure, landed his aircraft and rescued the downed pilot. He was exposed to continuous enemy fire throughout this rescue, receiving 19 bullet strikes to his aircraft.

Colonel Fisher, who was a major at the time, was presented the Medal of Honor Jan. 19, 1967 by President Lyndon B. Johnson for his profound concern for his fellow Airman, and at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty.

Today, Colonel Fisher is a humble farmer residing in Kuna, Idaho, with his wife Realla, both proud parents of six boys.

Colonel Fisher’s tour here included lunch at the Korean Garden restaurant, a simulator ride and a tour of the 35th Fighter Squadron. He completed his tour after talking to pilots and 8th Fighter Wing leaders at the 35th FS.

Capt. Alan Talbert, the 35th FS chief of scheduling, felt fortunate to meet Colonel Fisher and have the chance to interact with him one on one, he said.

“I was honored to meet a legendary fighter pilot. Colonel Fisher’s story is one of great personal commitment to both the Air Force mission and his brother Airmen,” Captain Talbert said. “Everyone who heard Colonel Fisher speak left inspired and dedicated to further our mission here at Kunsan.”

Colonel Fisher said his impressions of the 35th Fighter Squadron were that it was a professional military outfit that he was proud to still be a part of.

“I want (Airmen) to remember the standards and expectations they were sworn to hold and know that the members before you are very proud,” he said. “Understand that the satisfaction you get from the Air Force does not come in a medal, it comes from knowing that you are a part of something bigger than yourself.”

The president, in the name of Congress, has awarded 3,464 Medals of Honor to the nation’s bravest Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guard members since the decoration’s creation in 1861.

Of those 3,464, the Air Force has 17 Medal of Honor recipients. As of Nov. 27, 2007, there are 107 surviving recipient’s with five being Air Force recipients.

The Medal of Honor is the highest military decoration awarded by the U.S. government. It is bestowed on a member of the U.S. Armed Forces who distinguishes himself or herself conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his or her life above and beyond the call of duty while engaged in an action against an enemy of the U.S. As a result of the requirements, the medal is commonly awarded posthumously.