The US Submarine Force is a proud service. They take pride in the role they played during WWII in the Pacific. It is not an understatement to say the Nation’s submarines did more to cripple the Japanese war machine than the rest of the armed forces combined. Submarines sank 55% of all the Japanese shipping tonnage lost during the war, although the force totaled only 1.6% of the US Navy’s total strength during the war.
The price the force paid was very high. Fifty-two submarines were lost at sea, and over 4000 men went with them. When you consider that 326 American submarines saw action during the war, you realize that 1 of every 7 submarines that put to sea didn’t come home. Yes that’s a higher casualty rate than any other branch of the Navy.
As you might expect, submariners honor the men who fought during the war. They are our heroes, true American Heroes. We lost one of them last week. Harry Fischer.
Captain Harry Fischer, Jr., USN (ret), a veteran of three wars passed away on January 12. He was 93 years old.
Harry was born in Honesdale, PA. He entered the US Naval Academy via fleet-wide competitive examinations after 14 months enlisted service, and graduated with the class of 1940. His initial assignment was signal officer of the heavy cruiser San Francisco based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. He was a junior officer of the watch on December 7th when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor.
In October 1942 he attended submarine school and served in submarines for the remainder of WWII. He completed eight submarine war patrols in the USS Thresher and USS Spikefish which he commissioned as executive officer.
Harry commanded three San Diego based ships: the submarine USS Ronquil, the destroyer USS Rogers, and the USS Saint Paul, the last Pacific Fleet all-gun heavy cruiser. He also commanded the USS Pollux, a Japan-based supply ship, and Submarine Division 71 based in Pearl Harbor. Other duty assignments included the Bureau of Naval Personnel; Staff, Commander-in-Chief Pacific Fleet; Joint Staff Commander, US forces Japan; Staff, US Naval War College; Commander, Recruit Training Command, San Diego; and Commander, Naval Training Center, San Diego.
Harry was a graduate of the US Naval War College and held an MS degree in International Affairs from George Washington University. His decorations included the Silver Star medal, 3 Bronze Star medals, and the Navy Commendation medal, all with Combat V.
Harry is survived by his wife of 67 years, the former Florence Holland of Eastville, VA. A memorial service will be held at 3 pm on Thurs, 1/21, at Christ Episcopal Church, Coronado, CA, where Harry’s ashes will be interred in the Memorial Garden. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations are suggested to be made in his name, to the donor’s charity of choice.
We remain free today because of men like Harry Fischer.