Retired Jan. 31, 1964. Died July 24, 1991.
William Parker Fisher was born in Atlanta, Ga., in 1911. His father, Parker William Fisher, a Congregational minister, moved his family several times before Southern Pines, N.C., became their permanent residence. From there he entered North Carolina State College at Raleigh and after an interruption of two years, during which he worked at various jobs, he graduated in 1934 with a bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering. Long an aviation "bug", he applied for and was selected as an Army flying cadet. In June 1935 he graduated from Advanced Flying School, Kelly Field, Texas, and Oct. 1, 1936 was among the first fifty to be appointed second lieutenant, Air Corps, Regular Army, under the Thomason Act.
Mitchel Field on Long Island, N.Y., was his first duty station and there he remained from 1935 to 1940, first assigned to the 1st Bomb Squadron and then to Headquarters of the 9th Bomb Group. He served successively as pilot of B-10s and B-18s; group bombardier; assistant group navigation officer; and instructor in the group's navigation school.
In March 1940, First Lieutenant Fisher became base engineering officer at Wheeler Field, Hawaii. On his promotion to captain, he became the commander of the 78th Pursuit Squadron, then flying P-36s and P-40s.
Captain Fisher was made assistant operations officer for the Hawaiian Air Force in May 1941. In September of that year, he, Major Emmett "Rosie" O'Donnell and others took part in the epoch-making flight of nine B-17s from Hawaii to the Philippines. For his participation he was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.
Major Fisher's "gold oak leaves" were two days old when, on Dec. 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Clark Field and the unit he commanded the 28th Bomb Squadron of the famed 19th Bomb Group. He wears the Purple Heart for the wound he received during the bombing.
He led the 28th Squadron from Bataan to Mindanao in January 1942 where it was converted to an infantry unit. For more than two months he and his men fought the Japanese Army before their unit was overwhelmed. Out of the Philippines, Major Fisher was given command of all allied fighter units in East Java. When Java fell in March 1942, he was first evacuated to Australia and then in April 1942 returned to the United States. From then until July 1943, Lieutenant Colonel Fisher was in Headquarters, 3rd Air Force at Tampa, Fla. The following few months he spent with the 58th Bomb Wing.
Wearing his new "eagles," Colonel Fisher took a long, hard "bucket-seat" ride via the South American-African route to China to take charge of the 308th Bomb Group. His B-24s operated under the direct control of Major General Claire Chennault of Flying Tigers fame. The 308th Group flew every type of mission in the books - and a few others. It was, in effect, the Strategic Air Force of the China Theater. For service as its commander, Colonel Fisher received an oak leaf cluster to the Distinguished Flying Cross; the Legion of Merit and the Air Medal.
Colonel Fisher left his combat command in October 1944 and reported to Washington, D.C., as deputy to General Lauris Norstad, chief of staff of 20th Air Force. He was awarded an oak leaf cluster to the Legion of Merit for his work. Subsequently he served on the Air Staff in Washington, under General Curtis E. LeMay and Major General Fred Anderson, unti1 September 1947 when he entered the Air War College, Maxwell Field, Ala.
For approximately a year after his graduation in June 1948, Colonel Fisher was a member of the Air War College faculty. He departed Alabama for Texas in March 1949 to become commander of the 7th Bomb Wing and Carswell Air Force Base at Fort Worth. Reassigned in January 1950, he moved to Tucson, Ariz., to be commander of both the 43rd Bombardment Wing and Davis-Monthan Air Force Base. The 7th and 43rd Wings were the first two wings of B-36s in the Air Force. When the 36th Air Division was activated there in September 1951, Colonel Fisher was appointed its commander and was promoted to brigadier general the following month.
With all of his experience in bombers, General Fisher was an obvious choice in October 1952 to assume the leadership of Far East Air Forces Bomber Command and the three B-29 wings operating from bases in Japan and Okinawa against targets in North Korea during the last year of the Korean action. For his exceptionally meritorious service in that position he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal.
General Curtis LeMay called General Fisher in July 1953 to be the inspector general at Strategic Air Command headquarters. Two years later, in April 1955, General Fisher took command of the newly activated 1st Air Division, and then a year later, on Aug. 7, 1956, he became deputy commander, Eighth Air Force with headquarters at Westover Air Force Base, Mass. In that position, on Oct. 24, 1956, he gained the second star of a major general. For his work in the Eighth Air Force, General Fisher was awarded a second and third oak leaf cluster to the Legion of Merit.
In Washington, D.C., General Fisher was successively appointed deputy director of legislative liaison, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, April 25, 1958 and director June 28, 1958.
On Sept. 14, 1959, General Fisher was chosen to command the Eastern Transport Air Force, Military Air Transport Service, with headquarters at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J. This latest assignment charges him with responsibility for all MATS transport activities covering the entire eastern half of the globe.
As a command pilot and command observer, General Fisher has flown more than 7,500 hours in jet and conventional aircraft. During World War II and the Korean conflict he flew 59 combat missions.
General Fisher is one of the Air Force's best senior golfers. He has won trophies in tournaments in Washington, D.C., Dallas, Texas (the Air Force Association convention of 1958) and Quantico, Va.
DECORATIONS AND MEDALS
Distinguished Service Medal
Legion of Merit with three oak leaf clusters
Distinguished Flying Cross with oak leaf cluster
Presidential Unit Citation with four oak leaf clusters
Army Commendation Medal
American Campaign Medal
Asiatic/Pacific Theater Medal
Philippine Defense Ribbon
National Defense Service Medal
Air Force Longevity Service Award