Black History Month: The history of one of the most decorated African American soldiers to serve in World War I

Published: 1 February 2024

By Adriane Askins Wise, 2nd Bomb Wing Historian Office
via the Joint Base San Antonio (DOD) website

Aaron R Fisher

Retired Army Chief Warrant Officer, Aaron R. Fisher poses for his official portrait taken at Fort Des Moines, Iowa. 1918. Throughout Fisher’s 53.5 years of government service, he received the Distinguished Service Cross, the Purple Heart, the Croix De Guerre with a gold star, and an Army Commendation Medal. (U.S. Army photo)

One of the most highly decorated African American soldiers to serve in World War I was stationed at Barksdale Field, Louisiana, in 1932.

Aaron R. Fisher was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Purple Heart by for his actions at Lesseux, France while serving as a second lieutenant with the 366th Infantry Regiment, 92nd Division.

The French government recognized him as an officer of admirable courage and awarded him the Croix De Guerre medal with a gold star.

Throughout his military career Fisher was stationed in Texas, New Mexico, California, Hawaii, Louisiana, and the Philippines.

Fisher was honorably discharged with the rank of captain in the Army Reserve at the end of WWI. He reenlisted on June 12, 1919, and promoted to the rank of warrant officer.

Fischer was promoted to chief warrant officer in 1942 and received an Army Commendation Medal for his work with the ROTC at Wilberforce University.

During his time at the historically black private school he trained future officers who would later serve in World War II. He taught there until he medically retired in 1947.

After his medical retirement Fisher continued to serve his country for another 17 years as a civil servant at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. He retired in 1965 with a total of 53.5 years of government service.

While his time at Barksdale Field was brief, it did not go unnoticed. It drew the attention of the Barksdale’s first commander Col. Millard F. Harmon, who in a letter to the Office of the Assistant Secretary of War for Air, described him as being a “very efficient, well-behaved soldier and who conducts himself in a proper manner.”

For more details regarding the life and service of Aaron Richard Fischer or his time at Barksdale Air Force Base, please see:

  • Arville L. Funk, “Lt. Aaron R. Fisher – A Hoosier Hero, “Black History News & Notes,” no. 25 (May 1986): 4-6.
  • Letter, Col Millard F. Harmon, Barksdale Field Commander to Maj W. G. Kilner, Asst. Sec of War for Air, 27 July 1932. Copy archived in 2d Bomb Wing History Office, Barksdale AFB.

Read the entire article on the Joint Base San Antonio website.
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