|Birth: ||Jan. 14, 1919|
|Death: ||Jan. 3, 2012|
San Diego County
Loving Husband, Father and Grandfather
Clayton Evan Fisher passed away on the third of January 2012, at the age of 92 years and eleven months – his final sortie. After escaping death at least eight times in his life as a naval aviator, he passed away from heart failure sitting in the back seat of his car, peacefully lying in the arms of his wife of almost 70 years. Clay Fisher was a resident of Coronado since 1955. Clay was born on January 14, 1919, in Footville, Rock County, WI. He was the son of Clayton Eugene Fisher and Eva Stewart Fisher. He was predeceased by two older sisters, Maxine Morgan and Evelyn Gant. He grew up in Janesville, WI, and after completing high school, became a member in the Wisconsin National Guard's 32nd Division's Tank Company.
Concurrently, he studied chemical engineering at Milton College and the University of Wisconsin. After his junior year, he was accepted into the Naval Aviation Flight Program. The chance to become a pilot was a dream come true ever since he had watched Charles Lindberg land "The Spirit of Saint Louis" at a local airport when he was 10-years old. Just before the attack on Pearl Harbor, Ensign Fisher was assigned to Bombing Squadron Eight (CV-8) aboard the newly commissioned carrier, the USS Hornet stationed at NAS Norfolk. He met the love of his life Anne (Mildred) Koster of Williamsburg, Iowa, a registered nurse serving as a 2nd LT in the Army Nursing Corps, stationed at Fort Story, Virginia Beach. After dating a mere four months, they married in South Mills, NC, on February 18, 1942.
During the Battle of Midway, he received the Navy's highest commendation medal, the Navy Cross, after he and his radioman-gunner, ARM3/c George Ferguson, flew five dive-bombing missions against enemy ships during a 17-hour period. During the final attack, Ensign Fisher planted a bomb squarely on the stern of the Japanese destroyer Arashio. On a subsequent combat mission during the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands, he and his gunner were both shot and wounded by enemy fire. Out of fuel and desperate to land, Clay witnessed the Hornet listing before it sank exactly one year from the date of its commissioning due to a direct hit by a Japanese Kamikaze pilot.
With no available carrier to to make a landing, he was forced to ditch his battered plane in the Pacific Ocean. His gunner helped to save his life along with sailors who hauled him up the ropes aboard the moving USS Juneau. Tragically, this ship sank several weeks later taking with it the famed five Sullivan brothers. During the Korean War, Clay participated in the celebrated attacks on the bridges at "Toko-Ri" as well as numerous interdiction missions in North Korea, flying F4U Corsairs in the fighter-bomber role.
Clay narrowly escaped death time after time due to situations such as a tailhook assembly being ripped off during a carrier landing, ditching a plane with a dead engine in the ocean off the Florida coast, performing an emergency wheels-up landing, almost ramming the stern of the USS Essex, and many other terrifying incidents. During his naval career, Clay was also a flight instructor at NAS Fort Lauderdale, NAS Vero Beach, and on aircraft training carriers in Lake Michigan. He served as Air Operations Officer at NAS Kodiak, and at the end of his career as Executive Officer of NAS Miramar in San Diego, retiring as a U.S. Navy Commander after 21 years of service to his country in March 1961.
Later he worked for Beckman Instruments on centrifuges as a Field Engineer, and ended his career as a real estate broker and developer of the Coronado Plaza, a three-story office condominium building located at 1001 B Avenue in Coronado. Clay Fisher loved to play golf, and was an avid reader often reading a book a day. He loved tinkering with computers – building his own systems, learning DOS to Windows 7, and creatively editing pictures using Photoshop. He also liked dreaming up innovative ways to tackle home projects. He had incredible recall of being a dive bomber while in the Navy, and compiled his memoirs into a book called "HOOKED … Tales & Adventures of a Tailhook Warrior" that was published in 2009.
Probably his biggest disappointment in life was when he quit flying. Clay was humble regarding his naval career, but to family and friends, he was an unsung hero. He is survived by his wife Mildred Anne Fisher, his two daughters: Susan C. McClure, and Roberta (Bobbie) Dennis, and five grandchildren: Michael G. Beauchamp, Alison C. McClure, Evan S. McClure, Meghan E. McClure, and Heather A. (McClure) Baumann.
A memorial service with full military honors will be performed by Monsignor Robert Ecker at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr., San Diego, CA 92101 (Point Loma) on Friday, February 17, 2012, at 11 a.m. A reception will follow at the family home in Coronado for all friends and family to celebrate his life one day before what would have been his 70th wedding anniversary.
Obituary published by the Coronado Eagle & Journal Posted: Thursday, February 2, 2012 2:40 pm
Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery
San Diego County
Created by: Geraldine "Gerry" Hume...
Record added: Feb 23, 2012
Find A Grave Memorial# 85607181