HEADQUARTERS/TIGER FORCE Companies
5/24/1949 – 1/12/2014
I was informed by his son, that he passed away today sometime. He was only around 64 and our last communication was only a day or so ago. His death comes as quite a shock and a surprise due to his bright luminous presence, his incredible sense of humor and his deep and loyal friendship. I would sure like to have been with him, but I am fully cognizant that death is always a very personal thing.
His first day and first 8 hours in the field (Sept 20th 1967 – Chu Lai Vietnam), he treated and medevacced Sgt Diaz, Sgt Fulton, Spec 4 Clint, Spec 4 Martinez and he attempted and was unable to save Spec 4 Oakden’s life. It was the Tiger Force’s first day of Operation Wheeler and the number of deaths and injuries continued to mount from that harsh initial beginning for a newly arriving medic. He had recounted that “for the first 30 days he had daily, either a death or a traumatic amputation, and often both- to deal with”. At his core was an intelligent kind and sensitive man, who proved to be a steady competent soldier with a highly refined ethical base.
Within a week the death of Tiger Force members included; Green (“Boots”), Beck, Varney, Ingram. Fischer had been pinned down with “Boots” and Beck, and was the only surviving member of the three, before the rest of the team were able to afford a rescue. He recounted the story of Green being struck first, and Beck immediately began laying down protective fire as Fischer first attempted to drag the wounded Green to cover (and failing this due to Green’s size), began administering medical aid, right in the open while exposed to a withering enemy fire. He labored briefly under these conditions, trying to save Green who was still conscious and speaking and requesting help.
Beck looked back, seeing that Fischer was working on Green in the open, told him to move him to cover. Fischer called, “I tried, he’s too heavy for me to move!” and he continued to work on Green to stop the bleeding, and administer morphine.
As Fischer recalled, “Beck yelled, “‘ll help you move him!”
Fischer said, “I yelled for him to keep firing, but it was too late. He began running to us and almost immediately took a round and fell. I stopped working on “Boots”, ran over, saw it was a head wound. Beck was gone! I ran back to work on Boots, he had initially been shot in the stomach and was still conscious, but then boom, right in the head, right as I was working trying to save him. Boom, gone! and that’s when I lost it! I was kneeling right there in the open when the rest of the team got to us. The enemy fled. I admit it, when they got to me I was bawling my eyes out, I just totally lost it!”
At that time Fischer was 18 years old.
In spite of these war experiences, Fischer retained a consistently comfortable honest and thoughtful reflection of events without embellishment or braggadocio. He had a deep interest in war history and read extensively. He worked as a Porsche car salesman in Metairie Louisiana and then later as a proof reader for Harcourt Brace school texts in San Antonio. He retained his sense of humor and irony that easily surfaced after a shot or two of Laphroaig Scotch. In spite of the tragedies he endured he had learned how to move on and laugh heartily with you, at his own jokes.
(His father had been a Flying ace that had been shot down in Korea and spent time in a Chinese POW camp and Fischer had been raised as an “Army Brat”). Fischer had cared for his mother who had passed away about a year before. They lived together in San Antonio Texas.
We were certainly closer than most family members and I feel this loss very deeply.
I miss the hell out of my bud. As noted above, he medivacced me, saved my life a couple of times, damn he was mentally very easy to be around, so incredibly solid with emotions held in check, (except when they deserved to be aired, as in witnessing the deaths of two fellow Tigers and friends as expressed above). He was wounded internally, deep in the heart with the losses, but he pressed on, able to recapture his smiling great thoughtful calm. He was always a pleasure to be around. I was honored, truly. His mother was a real sweetheart as well. I was family when I visited.
Dan Clint/Harold Fischer
Thought and memories from Hank Ortega.
I met Doc Fish on my first day in the field, headed out to C company. He was in from Tigers. Another soldier took me up to the perimeter where he was taking his leisure, getting some sun in an old bomb crater. We spoke quietly in private, and I took in as much wisdom as he cared to dispense. It was his last day in Vietnam Nam. I never saw him again, but that hour sitting in the sun, passing a canteen, and discussing what I had ahead of me stuck with me more than any other preparation I had done. I carried him with me in my heart that whole year and through 25 years of medical practice. Served me well. Thanks, Doc Fish.