TFH 2/18: Sergeant Michael E. Fish, USAF

The members of the United States Air Force aren’t typically associated with ground combat. That doesn’t hold for those brave airmen who volunteer for Pararescue duties and become “Pararescue Jumpers” or “PJs”.

On February 18, 1969, a Kaman HH-43 that site Huskie of the 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron was dispatched to try and recover the crew of a shot-down Army helicopter. The Army pilot couldn’t be extracted from the wreckage before darkness fell. The Pararescueman who went down into the jungle to perform the rescue elected to stay with his trapped brother in arms until the rescue could be effected.

That PJ’s name was Sergeant Michael E. Fish, and for his courage, he received the Air Force Cross.

From Military Times’ Hall of Valor:

order lasix The President of the United States of America, authorized by Title 10, Section 8742, United States Code, takes pleasure in presenting the Air Force Cross to Sergeant Michael E. Fish (AFSN: 19881623), United States Air Force, for extraordinary heroism in military operations against an opposing armed force as an HH-43B helicopter Pararescue Specialist of Detachment 11, 38th Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Squadron, Tuy Hoa Air Base, Vietnam, during a rescue operation 25 miles southwest of Tuy Hoa Air Base, Republic of Vietnam, on 18 and 19 February 1969. During this period, with complete disregard for his personal safety, he was voluntarily lowered through intense hostile ground fire to treat and rescue four seriously injured Army UH-1 helicopter crew members, whose helicopter had been downed by hostile fire in a remote, mountainous, densely jungled canyon. He elected to remain on the ground overnight, fully realizing that he faced attacks by the hostile forces which completely surrounded him, and for more than fifteen hours, he treated and cared for the pilot, who was trapped inside the wreckage, until he could be freed. Through his extraordinary heroism, superb airmanship, and aggressiveness in the face of the enemy, Sergeant Fish reflected the highest credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.

Another PJ named Norman Reeves received the Silver Star for the same action; I could not locate the citation. I believe Sergeant Fish is still living.

Fish’s Vietnam unit is today known as the 38th Rescue Squadron. They are part of the 347th Rescue Group at Moody Air Force Base, Georgia.

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