Col Harold E. Fischer

2017-12-14 Fischer

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)

MSG Rosebud Archer

2017-11-20 Archer

Growing up in New Jersey, Rosebud Archer had a nickname: the “Little Mayor of Plainfield.” She was well known for her community involvement in that city, where she went to the local nursery once a week to read to children and helped plan outdoor youth programs at City Hall.

The octogenarian recalls her mother emphasizing to her and her siblings that it was their job to help people who were less fortunate than they were. That directive came from a widow who worked 16 hours a day to provide for her six children after their father suffered a heart attack and died. Archer was 8 when she lost her dad.

The inherited sense of duty coupled with her family connection to the military (her uncles and brothers served) led Archer to join the Navy, where she earned a Good Conduct Medal. She served from 1952-56, during which she traveled and performed with a naval entertainment troupe, worked in a photography lab, helped in the education office and eventually became a flight attendant. She later joined the Army, where she became a master sergeant and served until 1993.

No matter which job she was doing, she was known to go above and beyond.

“When I got a promotion, nobody wanted to take my job,” Archer recalled. “They said, ‘Wow, we didn’t know you had to do all of this’ … and I was doing it all by myself.”

We honor you, Rosebud Archer.

(Submission by: Ninzel Rasmuson. #Repost @WHYY)

1LT Dorothy “Dottie” Walters Cutts

2017-11-7 Cutts

World War II was both a frustrating and fulfilling experience for Dorothy Walters. She wanted to make a significant contribution to the war effort, so she went to work in a defense plant. But that wasn’t enough, and she joined the new Women’s Auxiliary Army Corps, first as a clerk, then as part of the Medical Corps, practicing giving injections on oranges. She then decided she wanted to be a nurse and entered the Cadet Nurse Corps of the Public Health Service, but the war ended before she graduated. After working at a children’s hospital with victims of polio, Walters finally got a chance to serve as a full-fledged military nurse during the Korean War, stationed in Washington, D.C. and Honolulu.

We honor you, Dorothy Cutts.

(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project)

2LT Willard Holbrook Coates

2017-11-5 Coates

USMA Class of 1950, Second Lieutenant Coates was a member of the 7th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Infantry Division. He was Killed in Action while fighting the enemy in North Korea on November 28, 1950. For his leadership and valor, Second Lieutenant Coates was awarded the Silver Star and the Purple Heart.

Statistics and memories combine to paint a portrait of a young man who gave his full measure of devotion to his country. The dry statistics can give us no comfort, but the memories make Willard live for those who loved him.

His bravery doesn’t shine in heroic deeds, but in a four-year old not whimpering when his arm had to be rebroken after a mishap in setting.

The desire to wear his country’s uniform was Willard’s dream from early childhood. As a young boy, Will dressed in his father’s old uniform and walked sentry duty before the front door. He challenged all comers with comic reactions from civilian guests.

His background was two generations of Army officers, yet his proudest possession was his good conduct medal, because he, of all his family, had earned the right to wear it.

Will had a deep love of family. His greatest wish the last few years was for a family reunion. There is great comfort in remembering that his wish was fulfilled the summer before his death.

His love of argument was a source of amusement and exasperation. The topic or the side did not matter, just the opportunity to argue. His West Point roommate learned to recognize the symptoms and to prepare to retreat quickly.

His joy in living and curiosity for everything were wonderful gifts. In less than twenty-five years, Willard found and loved laughter, small boy secret joys, and realization of his West Point goal. The last months of his life were the fullest. His graduation, his marriage, and the reunion at home were the memories he took with him overseas.

Following his duty and beliefs Willard met his destiny on a Korean hillside. His legacy is a small daughter born after his death. His mark on history may be minute, but for us who knew and loved him, Willard has left memories and a part of himself to soften the pain of loss.

A portrait of a boy, a man, son, and brother forever young and forever beloved.

We honor you, Willard Coates.

(#Repost @Arlington National Cemetery. Written by: Margaret Coates Moore)

A1C Raymond L. Ayon

2017-10-21 Ayon

Fascinated with his older brothers’ letters home from World War II, 16-year-old Raymond Ayon dropped out of high school in 1945. He signed up for the Merchant Marines–but after a year they learned he was too young. Ayon went back to school, graduated, and enlisted in the Air Force in 1948. His first assignment was with a fighter bomber squadron in Japan, but the Air Force decided to make a medical corpsman out of him. Shortly after the United States went to war in Korea in 1950, Ayon was in the thick of things, loading casualties onto transport planes bound for Japan. He spent time with a MASH unit, claiming it was hardly like what was depicted in the famed TV show. Ayon is sensitive to those who would diminish his service just because he wasn’t an infantry soldier.

We honor you Raymond Ayon.

(#Repost @Veteran’s History Project)

LTC Regina H. Schiffman

2017-10-20 Schiffman

Regina graduated from West Philadelphia High School and entered nurses training at the Hahneman Hospital School Of Nursing. Upon graduation, she began as an operating room nurse at the Presbyterian Medical Center in NYC. After three years of Neurosurgical Nursing work there she decided to make a career in the U.S.Army. A year after she enlisted, the U.S. was at war in Korea, & in the summer of 1951 she found herself working in the operating room of the 8063rd. M.A.S.H unit in Korea. Conditions were primitive in both the Operating Room (tent), as well as in her tent for living. A pot-bellied stove for heat, & her helmet for bathing, but she grew strength from the selflessness of her mission & the camaraderie of her fellow nurses, physicians & soldiers.

Before retiring after 21 years of service she served at Brooke Army Medical Center BAMC), Fort Sam Houston, Texas, Letterman General Hospital, San Francisco, Valley Forge General Hospital, Pennsylvania, 8063rd. Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH), Korea, Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Maryland, Walter Reed Medical Center, Washington, D.C., Landstuhl & Frankfort Germany, Japan, & Ft. Benning, Georgia. During her career she was awarded The Korean Service Medal, United nations Service medal, National Defense Service Medal W/1 oak leaf cluster, & The Meritorious Service Medal. While serving in the Army, she also completed her Master’s Degree in Nursing at Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas, & graduated Magna Cum Laude. She retired in San Antonio, Texas where she lived in Windcrest, & finally at the Army Residence Community. During her retirement she traveled all around the world on 56 ocean cruises.

We honor you, Regina Schiffman.

(#Repost @Dignity Memorial)

Maj Corbin B. Willis Jr.

2017-10-12 Willis

Corbin grew up in Colorado and with his best friend and sister Betty they had many fun adventures. He graduated from high school and enlisted in the Army Air Corp. He was trained as a fighter pilot and then transferred to the Air Force as a B-17 pilot when the need arose. During WWII while on his 22nd bombing mission over Germany they were shot down and he became a POW. He was liberated at the end of the war, served in the Korean war and in the military until he retired as a Major after 20 years.

He married the love of his life Margaret (Peggy) Taylor in 1949. They traveled all over the world while he served in the military. They are the parents of four children. After military retirement they settled in Alameda, California to raise their family. Corbin worked as the purchasing agent for Alameda Hospital until he retired from that position and they moved to Sandy, Oregon. Together they enjoyed traveling, playing bridge, and reading. Corbin had an continuous thirst for knowledge. He could not go within 200 miles of a museum or a point of interest without taking a detour to see it. He was an accomplished painter and spent many years teaching in schools about the war and his POW experience.

We honor you, Corbin Willis, Jr.

(#Repost @Myers Mortuary)