Fischer, Bob

Bob Fischer was born July 14, 1926 in West Allis, Wisconsin.  He grew up in that industrial town in a family with five siblings including a twin brother, and he attended Catholic school – all while the Great Depression was unfolding.  Bob does remember good times from that decade, but he also remembers working – selling newspapers and working at the A&W among other things – and doing what he could to help the family make ends meet.  Bob spent some of the early war years in California, and while there he worked at Lockheed building P-38s.  Still, his 18th birthday was on the way, and knowing he was soon to be drafted, Bob enlisted in the navy.  In fact he recalls being anxious to do so – he wanted to fight after one of his good friends was killed on Iwo Jima.  He went into boot camp, and from there he was transferred to Virginia and then on to San Francisco, where he was assigned to the USS Chenango.  The Chenango was a converted aircraft carrier, in dock for repairs at that time.  While he waited for the ship, Bob took advantage of the liberty that was granted, even managing to dance with Peggy Ryan at the Pepsi Cola Center!  Once on ship Bob had a variety of duties:  he was in aviation stores, on the bridge, and on a 5-inch gun when the ship was under attack.  The Chenango would take part in the battle for Okinawa, one of the final and deadliest battles in the Pacific War.  Kamikazes were a daily occurrence by this time, and on one memorable occasion Bob and the Chenango were saved by an American F4U Corsair fighter who managed to push a kamikaze just enough so that it landed in the Chenango’s wake.  The Chenango came through that battle, while so many other American ships were targeted and hit.  And it was not long after that that the news of the Japanese surrender came.  About one month after the atomic bombs, the Chenango was ordered to Nagasaki, where they exchanged their planes for cots and were readied to transport liberated POWs.  Bob at this time had the opportunity to see Nagasaki – and the firsthand effects of the atomic blast.  The Chenango left Japan soon after, bound for the United States – and home.  Bob had been alerted by the Red Cross that his older sister was very ill, so it was not the homecoming he’d hoped for, but he was back and ready to be a civilian again.  He met a girl and before long was married and raising his own family – and doing his part to rebuild postwar America.  Crestwood students were able to zoom with Bob Fischer in October 2023.