World War IIUS Navy
Torpedo Squadron Eight (VT-8), U.S.S. Hornet
Service Number: 03721432
Born: November 2, 1921 - Wray
Inducted: April 3, 1940 - Denver
Missing in action June 4, 1942 in Battle of Midway
Status changed presumed killed in action June 5, 1943
Memorial marker - National Cemetery of the Pacific, Honolulu, Hawaii
Distinguished Flying Cross, Purple Heart
Son of Joseph H. and Leota Fisher of Denver (formerly of Wray).
Memorial Marker - Tablets of the Missing
National Cemetery of the Pacific, Hawaii
Rear gunner, Aviation Radioman 2d class Ronald J. Fisher, and his pilot, Lieutenant (jg) George M. Campbell (pictured at left), flew a Devastator (TBD-1) SN 0364, side marker 8-T-11, in Torpedo Squadron 8 (VT-8) off the USS Hornet in the Battle of Midway on 4 June 1942. Every plane from squadron VT-8 was shot down on their first mission of the battle. A single VT-8 survivor Ensign George H. Gay was recovered from the sea after the battle. Of the forty-one TBD-1s launched by the three American carriers, USS Hornet, USS Enterprise and USS Yorktown, only six returned.
This US Navy aircrew photograph was shot during the May 1942 Battle of the Coral Sea. This photograph and other navy combat film footage was used in a John Ford movie Torpedo Squadron Eight made for the families of the squadron members. For a larger image and more about Torpedo Squadron 8 including more aircrew photographs, see: www.centuryinter.net "Torpedo Eight In Color"
The Wray Gazette - June 18, 1992
Wray native featured in Denver newspaper on Echoes of World War II
The Denver Post featured an article on the late Ronald Joseph Fisher in their June 4 edition. Ronald who was born in Wray was a nephew of longtime resident Emma Brown. His father, Joseph, was a brother to Emma. The article written by DP staff writer, Jim Kirksey follows:
"Ronald Joseph Fisher disappeared over the swells of the Pacific Ocean 50 years ago, plunging smack into the battle that would realign world history.
He never came back. In fact, only one member of Fishers squadron lived past that morning, and none of the lumbering bombers they flew survived the mission.
Fisher's squadron flew into the annals of military lore at the Battle of Midway, which changed the course of World War II and marked the beginning of the decline of the Japanese Imperial Empire. Fisher, born in Wray and raised in Denver, was aboard a torpedo bomber on its way to a tiny atoll called Midway Island, 1,150 miles west-northwest of Hawaii.
He knew the task for his squadron dubbed the Coffin Squadron" by one of its pilots because of the slow and obsolete aircraft they flew was a deadly one.
The various aerial units of the U.S. Navy attack force became separated during the long flight through cloudy skies. The Hornet's 15 Devastator bombers were the first to arrive over the Japanese fleet.
Intent on sinking Japanese aircraft carriers that had raided Pearl Harbor a few months earlier, the 30 members of Torpedo Squadron 8 flew their cumbersome aircraft without the protection of escorting fighters. They went straight into a barrage of fire from the imperial fleet below and Japanese fighter planes above.
Torpedo 8 was devastated by the Japanese pilots and gunners. None of its torpedoes struck a target.
They were followed quickly by squadrons from the carriers USS Enterprise and the USS Yorktown. Those men flew just as bravely and just as unsuccessfully into the fray. Most of them died.
But their courage wasnt in vain. The audacious attacks on the carriers drew the large ships protective fighter planes down from higher altitudes and into the fight at sea level. That left a clear path for U.S. Navy dive bombers that arrived moments later.
The Dauntless dive bombers, unimpeded by enemy fighter planes, delivered their bombs with deadly accuracy, striking three Japanese aircraft carriers.
The action lasted about 5 minutes. The Japanese carrier Soryo was abandoned. The Akagi and the Kaga burned for hours. All three went to the bottom of the ocean.
Later that day, U.S. dive bombers found a fourth Japanese carrier, the Hiryu, and sank it, too.
The battle cost the Japanese Navy four of its six large aircraft carriers and most of its experienced pilots.
The losses for the Imperial fleet, which suffered its first defeat, were comparable to U.S. losses at Pearl Harbor.
Sixteen days after Fisher flew into combat, his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Joseph H. Fisher who lived at 117 W. Third Ave, Denver, in June 1942, were notified that their only child was missing in action.
The 20-year old radioman and gunner had graduated from East High School in 1939. He enlisted in the Navy on April 3, 1940.
"In your grief," an officer on the Hornet wrote to Fishers parents, may you find consolation in the knowledge that your sons heroism and bravery, far beyond the call of duty proved so decisive in the overwhelming victory achieved by our country in the battle of Midway.
A year later Fisher and the other members of Torpedo Squadron 8 were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation.
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