Eagle Profile

Harold E. Fischer began his military career as a Navy cadet, was commissioned into the Army, and transferred to the Air Force where he became the United States’ 25th jet Ace. Born in 1925, he grew up as a farm boy in Iowa. In 1944, Fischer became a Navy cadet, but was released from training at the end of World War II. In 1949, after two years at Iowa State, he persuaded the Army to give him a commission. Assigned to the Pentagon, he set his sights on becoming a pilot and through some “creative” paper handling wrangled a transfer to the Air Force.

Fischer eventually earned his wings in December 1950 and was soon sent to the Far East. Initially flying from Itazuke AB, Japan, he tasted his first combat with the 80th Fighter Bomber Squadron. As a young pilot in a squadron of “old heads,” Fischer was fated to fly over Korea in one of the oldest Lockheed F-80 Shooting Stars, which he named “Kismet.” He completed 105 missions, but “Kismet” did not! Next, he flew a battle-worn Aeronca observation plane as pilot for a British general. After a staff tour in Far East Air Force Headquarters in Japan, he returned to Korea to fly North American F-86 Sabres in the 39th Fighter Interceptor Squadron. As a first lieutenant flight commander, Fischer shot down his first enemy aircraft on 26 November 1952; he chalked up his fifth aerial victory on 24 January 1953 to become an Ace in only 47 missions!

On 7 April, with ten confirmed victories to his credit, he jumped three MiGs. The Iowa farm boy downed one and hit another, then fate intervened and “he” ended up a victory for a Russian pilot. Fischer became a prisoner-of-war and was held in China until 1955. Released, he returned to Iowa State to pursue a Master’s degree in Industrial Administration. He remained at the university teaching in the Reserve Officer Training Program, and then served as an intelligence officer, first at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska and then at Ramstein Air Base, Germany. Fischer then worked in the human factors field, before becoming a research associate in 1978 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During the war in Southeast Asia, he was Chief, Air Force Advisory Team Three at Bien Hoa Air Base; he flew South Vietnamese helicopters, and propeller and jet fighters.

In February 1973, Fischer took command of the Air Force Human Resources Laboratory at Brooks Air Force Base, Texas. His final assignment was to the United States Department of State in the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency; he retired as a colonel in May 1978 and remains active in many fields of business. In April 1994, he traveled to Kiev, Ukraine, to meet former Soviet pilots who flew in Korea. There he met one of his adversaries from the dogfight of 7 April 1953. The MiG pilot had escaped Fischer’s devastating attack!

Years Honored:


1994 Lithograph

Lithograph Setting(s):

On 24 January 1953, Harold Fischer climbed into his North American F-86 Sabre , "Paper Tiger" to lead his flight on a search mission. At 40,000 feet crossing the Ch'ongch'on River, the Sabres intercepted a fourship of Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-15s. Fischer slid in behind the element lead, closed range, and fired ... the MiG lit up in flames! Fischer became an Ace that day in "MiG Alley," an area just south of the Yalu River. He went on to be a "double Ace" with ten confirmed victories. Visiting the Ukraine in l994, Fischer met with several former adversaries--he now has conclusive evidence that he actually shot down eleven.