Master Sergeant (Ret.) Parnell Fisher is a decorated war veteran, serving 22 years as an Air Force loadmaster. He first served from 1950 to 1954 and, after earning a bachelor’s degree in the ensuing years, served again from 1959 to 1977.
He was awarded a Silver Star for gallant actions on Dec. 18, 1966, while aboard an AC-47 Spooky, over Vung Tau, Vietnam. During the routine mission, Fisher saved the life of the crew by tossing out a prematurely exploded flare from the aircraft. Fisher and the flight engineer were handling 22-pound flares, set to go off on a timer. As the engineer picked up a flare, it unexpectedly ignited. The chute went out and knocked him unconscious. “I get to the flare, go to the doorway and throw the dang thing out,” Fisher said. Thinking he had averted disaster, Fisher was distressed to see the flare’s chute hanging onto the edge of the plane’s cargo door. He feverishly cut at the attached cords, fighting to snip the tightly wound strings clutching to the cargo door and threatening the lives of the crew. Fisher was able to cut the flare’s chute loose just in time, severing the lines and looking on as the flare exploded outside seconds later.