Fischer grew up on a farm in Iowa and enlisted in the U.S. Army after two years at Iowa State University. He transferred to the Air Force in 1950 and achieved a remarkable combat record during 105 missions. He was credited with shooting down 10 Soviet-made MiG-15 fighters, enough to qualify him as a double ace.
In his last dogfight before his F-86 Sabre Jet was downed by a Chinese fighter pilot, Fischer chalked up his 11th MiG.
Fischer parachuted into enemy territory just north of the Yalu River, which separates North Korea from China, on April 7, 1953.
Fischer, a captain at the time, was taken by Chinese soldiers to a prison outside Mukden, Manchuria, where he spent the next 25 months. Three other American pilots from the Korean War were being held in the same prison. The four made headlines across the United States as a symbol of Cold War tensions, their imprisonment continuing months past the signing of the armistice and cease-fire that stopped the fighting July 27, 1953.
Nine months into his captivity, Fischer said, he used a nail to dig a hole through the wall of his cell and escaped. Intent on stealing a MiG, he was deterred by a guard and then tried to reach a railway station, where he was recaptured.
He and the other pilots were released May 31, 1955, after being tried by the Chinese in a mock trial in which they were found guilty of participating in germ warfare. They were then deported to the United States.
The release of the aviators may have been a strategic move by China to reduce tensions with the United States, which had risen sharply during a crisis over the Taiwan Straits, said Doug Lantry, a research historian at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
Fischer “not only survived an incredible and strange ordeal but went on to pass his knowledge of what he learned on to future airmen,” Lantry said. “That is one of the reasons he’s so important to the Air Force. He gathered an awful lot of knowledge of how to fly, how to fight and how to survive.”
Later in life Fischer learned that Chinese ace Han Decai was credited with shooting him down in 1953.
“When I found out that Han had been given credit for me, I tried to contact him through Chinese embassies,” Fischer said. “In 1996, I joined a group of [ World War II-era] Flying Tiger pilots who had been invited to visit China. There, I met Gen. Han and presented him with an F-86 model. We’ve met again since then. And we have become friends.”
Harold Edward Fischer Jr. was born May 8, 1925, on a farm outside Lone Rock, Iowa. From a young age, he had an interest in aviation and often spent his 10-cent allowance to buy issues of Flying Aces, a magazine about World War I. He later accumulated model airplanes and launched them from a windmill on his family’s farm.
After his release from the Chinese prison in 1955, Fischer returned to Iowa State University to pursue a master’s degree in industrial administration. During the Vietnam War, he flew 200 missions, primarily in helicopters. His final active-duty assignment, in 1978, was with the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.
His decorations included the Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Legion of Merit and Distinguished Flying Cross.
We honor you, Harold Fischer.
(#Repost @LA Times)
Muriel Kupersmith was born in Brooklyn, New York. Her first memories are of sitting on her father’s lap while he played songs on his mandolin. As a teenager, she had the job of air raid warden turning street lights off at dawn if a siren went off. This was done with a special key and she never remembers being afraid of walking around the city in the early morning. Later in life, she wanted to join the U.S. Marines because both her fiancé and future brother-in-law were Marines, but she was too young. So when she turned 20 Muriel went to enlist, but she was underweight, only 89 pounds! She was told to eat bananas and drink milkshakes, but her mother had a better idea. Taking a cup full of pennies, tying them in a handkerchief and wearing them discreetly, Muriel now at “98” pounds was able to enlist! The physical aspect of boot camp at Camp Lejeune was not difficult for her. Muriel didn’t mind the hot weather and was good at all the obstacle courses. However, when it came to performing indoor duties like making the bed, she did not do well. And when she had mess duty, the pot Muriel had to clean was bigger than her! After boot camp, Muriel was stationed at the all-female Henderson Hall in Arlington, Virginia. One of the women she met was a future actress named Bea Arthur. It was very strict at Henderson Hall and if any male was coming in, an announcement would be made on the intercom. Muriel’s job was to notify the family of deceased Marines. She had to go through their personal effects and pull out anything that would upset the family. One day, she got word that her fiancé, Bud, had been wounded at Okinawa and would be coming home. A few days later, Muriel was told to go and see the Colonel. Everyone was quiet around her as she walked to the office. Rather than hearing the good news about Bud, she was told that he had been killed on the hospital ship. Greatly saddened, Muriel was granted leave to go home. But after a few days, she was back to work for, what she felt, was a very good cause. A short time later she would also hear that her brother-in-law was killed at Iwo Jima.
One benefit that Muriel and her friends had was the ability to use free hops on planes to go to various places. Once they went to Florida for a weekend. Muriel ended up getting sunburned and on the way back home the plane experienced turbulent weather. It was so bad everyone had to wear the very heavy life preservers. After a rough landing and a visit from the ambulance staff to make sure everyone was alright, Muriel and friends were able to make it back to the barracks with a half hour to spare. On inspection the next day, she was asked by the Lieutenant where she got the sunburn and Muriel said “at the St. George’s hotel pool in Brooklyn.” At that point, Muriel swore off taking the hops…until the following weekend, when she got a chance to go to Chicago. Even though they had no money, the girls, wearing their Marine Corps uniforms, got to ride the L train to Wrigley Field and see a Cubs game all for free.
After the war, Muriel was getting ready to get discharged. She was given money to buy civilian clothes and found a great unknown store called “Copycat.” Some of the other women asked her where she got her outfits and Muriel said “Copycat.” “No, no,” one replied “We don’t want to copycat your outfits, just tell us where you got them.” “Copycat” Muriel replied. “Really we won’t buy the same outfits!” another exclaimed. Muriel laughed and explained about the name of the store. Now a civilian, and a few years later, the Marines wanted her back. But she was married now and not eligible to return to duty. Muriel worked in a bank in Brooklyn and she and her husband raised a son and a daughter. She likes to tell the story of her son’s birth. While waking up after the very difficult delivery of over five days, Muriel heard the Marine Corps song being played. Is it any wonder that her son became a Marine who would serve for 26 years?
We honor you, Muriel Kupersmith.
There is no doubt that Senator Bob Dole will always be known for his service to his country; however, most only consider the work he has done through various levels of Government, not realizing that Senator Dole also served in the U.S. Army during WWII, fighting in Italy with the 10th Mountain Division, where he was severely wounded by the Germans.
Senator Bob Dole’s lifetime of public service began with his enlistment in the United States Army during World War II. He was born in Russell, Kansas, on July 22nd, 1923. He graduated from Russell High School in 1941, and enrolled into the University of Kansas to pursue an undergraduate career on the pre-medical path. His university studies, however, were interrupted by his military service during WWII.
After training for nearly ninety days at from Fort Benning, Senator Dole left for Europe from Fort Meade in Maryland. Dole served mostly in Italy as a 2nd Lieutenant with the 10th Mountain Division. Senator Dole served under a group of experienced superiors, and cites in his oral history interview that it was these friendships formed during his service which helped build trust and alleviate intimidation. One individual specifically mentioned is Frank Carafa who rescued Senator Dole from danger after he was hit by a German. Senator Dole also recalls being marked with an “M” on his forehead— with his own blood—by a fellow GI to signify to the medics who later found him that he had already received one dose of morphine. Senator Dole was shot in the shoulder, suffered from spinal cord bruising, and lost a kidney. He was hospitalized for over a year, and during this time met future Senators Dan Inouye and Phil Hart.
In his interview, Senator Dole describes Eisenhower as a hero and comments on mourning the loss of President Franklin Roosevelt from overseas. Senator Dole served in the Army from 1942 until 1948, receiving the Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for his service, in addition to the American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, and the WWII Victory Medal and the Combat Infantryman Badge (CIB). Senator Dole recounts his WWII experience in this oral history interview, but also goes into much more detail in his 2005 autobiography One Soldier’s Story: A Memoir.
After ending his military career, Senator Dole began his public service as a legislator. He ran and was elected first to the Kansas House of Representatives in 1950. This began a long career in governmental work, including service in the United States House of Representatives from 1961-1969, as well as the U.S. Senate from 1969 to 1996, where he was both the Senate minority and majority leader. Dole also ran for Vice President with President Gerald Ford in 1976 and for President in 1980, 1988, and 1996.
In addition to his military honors, Senator Dole is a highly decorated citizen. In 1989, he received the Presidential Citizens Medal from President Ronald Reagan, the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Bill Clinton, and numerous other honors.
We honor you, Robert Dole.
(#Repost @Pritzker Military Museum & Library)
“I remember a young kid with a big smile and a fun loving nature. I served too. Thanks Henry.” – James Logan.
US Marine Private First Class Henry Harrison Ford Jr was a casualty of the Vietnam War. As a member of the Marine Corps Selective Service and a Draftee, PFC Ford served our country until December 12th, 1966 in Quang Nam, South Vietnam. He was 20 years old and was married. It was reported that Henry died from artillery fire. His body was recovered. PFC Ford is on panel 13E, line 037 of the Vietnam Memorial Wall in Washington D.C. He served our country for less than a year.
He served with Lima Company, 3rd Battalion, 1st Marines, 1st Marine Division, 3rd MAF.
He was awarded The Combat Action Ribbon(CAR), The Purple Heart Medal for his combat related wounds, The Vietnam Service Medal, The Republic of Vietnam Campaign Service Medal, The National Defense Service Medal and The Good Conduct Medal.
We honor you Henry Ford Jr.
(#Repost @Find A Grave)
Geraldine “Gerry” Boock graduated from nursing school in 1944, and she and several of her classmates decided to join the war effort. One of her friends volunteered the two of them for overseas duty, and after six weeks at sea, she landed in Calcutta, where she worked with patients wounded or taken ill in the China-Burma-India Theater. She wasn’t immune to an occasional bout of dysentery; she also encountered a shifty snake charmer, and, on a moonlight visit to the Taj Mahal, an amorous British soldier. After the war ended, she stayed on in India until spring 1946 and in the Army until December of that year. Her last assignment was in a California hospital obstetrics ward, as different an experience as possible from her sojourn in India.
We honor you, Geraldine Boock.
(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project)
Richard L. Schild loved Christmas so much that some of his friends had to tell him to cool it. “He was always looking for new ways to decorate,” said Merlin Goehring, a co-worker. “He always wanted the Christmas tree up before Thanksgiving, and I would tell him, ”You can”t light it up until Friday.”” Schild, 40, of Tabor, S.D., was killed Dec. 4 in a roadside bomb in Baghdad. He graduated from Mount Marty College and was assigned to Yankton. Schild was the office manager for the Bon Homme-Yankton Rural Electric Association and was trying to turn a portion of the local elementary school into a daycare run by a nonprofit organization. “Rich was one of those guys who, when he was lined up to do something, was committed and took it very seriously,” said elementary principal Mike Duffek. “I think of his personality as like a bulldog _ ”If I”m supposed to do something when I said I would, I would go do it.”” Ron Koupal, who hired Schild, said he enjoyed football and golf. “He loved the Minnesota Vikings and the Nebraska Cornhuskers,” Koupal said.
We honor you, Richard Schild.