Pilot’s act of bravery remembered

fisher memorial
50:1 Vintage Snowmobile Club members at Howard Fisher Memorial, June 28, 2020. Front (L to R): Clem Lavoie; Murray Rausch; Chuck Foster Rear (L to R): Phil Rogers; Isabelle Lavoie; Rita Rogers; Barry Getzinger Photo: Submitted

Goodsoil District: Nestled in a supremely quiet, untraveled stand of boreal Howard Fisherforest near the southern bank of the Beaver River, are the remnants of a Mitchell III B-25 aircraft. The plane’s scattered remains are located some 22 miles south west of Goodsoil, SK, in a picturesque river valley setting, comprising part of the Diamond 7 Ranch, owned and operated by Barry & Glenda Getzinger.

65 years ago, on July 18, 1955, several area ranchers, including Barry’s father (Frank Getzinger), were busy cutting hay in the meadows, adjacent to the riverbank. These men became firsthand observers of RCAF pilot Howard Fisher’s heroic effort to manage his doomed aircraft’s final descent. Barry recounts his late father’s description of the plane: trailing smoke and flame, and describing wide spirals as the pilot bought time for his crew of three to abandon the plane and parachute to safety. Tragically, there was no time remaining for the pilot, and thus Howard Fisher, age 25, went to ground with his plane.

Always the keen historian with an appetite for historical writing, Barry recounted his late father’s description of this accident to the 50:1 Vintage Snowmobile Club. This small group of vintage riders, with Barry as their chairman, often ride in the vicinity of the crash site. The club membership unanimously agreed that a memorial should be placed there, to show respect for this gallant young pilot, and to preserve this important piece of local history.

Our efforts to learn something more about this young Saskatchewan-born pilot led us to the Indian Head, SK branch of the Royal Canadian Legion, who put us in touch with Mr. Gordon Wilson. Mr. Wilson is pilot Howard Fisher’s first cousin, and we are indebted to this well-spoken, gracious gentleman for his willingness to share some family history. Through Mr. Wilson, we learned that the Fisher family included not one…but two pilot sons: Warren, whose plane never returned from a World War II mission over Germany, and Howard, whose untimely loss is described herein. Now at age 86, Mr. Wilson continues to appear annually at the Indian Head Remembrance Day ceremony, where he places a wreath in memory of the family’s service and devastating losses. But amidst this historic tragedy, we also learned that Thelma, the mother of these young pilot brothers lived to be 103, and was named Silver Cross mother for four consecutive years. In Mr. Wilson’s words: “the military treated her very well.”

A handsome memorial pedestal and plaque was installed on the morning of June 28, 2020, and now overlooks the scene of the crash from a gentle rise to the south west. Sincere thanks are extended to GPR Signs Inc. (Glen & Connie Rewega), and Clem Lavoie for donating their time, materials and expertise to this structure. May it, together with the following inscription, keep watch over this site for years to come.

In respectful memory of Flight Lieutenant Howard Allen Keating Fisher, age 25, who lost his life at this site when his RCAF Mitchell III B-25 aircraft; registration # 5242 caught fire in flight. Through Lieutenant Fisher’s heroic action of remaining with the plane and managing its final descent, he ensured the survival of his three crew members. “At the going down on the sun, and in the morning we will remember”

July 18, 1955

Respectfully submitted,

The 50:1 Vintage Snowmobile Club

Goodsoil, SK