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Celebrate 150 Years of Taps

Richard Fiske Marine Bugler at Pearl Harbor

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Richard Fiske was born in Boston, Massachusetts on March 26, 1922. He enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in February 1940. Following Field Music School, he was assigned to the USS West Virginia (BB-48) as a Marine Private bugler on July 6, 1940.

On December 7, 1941, Dick was on the quarter deck when the attack began at 07:55. He witnessed the Japanese planes coming in and launching their torpedoes towards his ship. There were nine torpedoes and two bombs that would eventually destroy the West Virginia. After the first torpedo hits, Dick rushed to his battle station which was on the navigation bridge. A few minutes later, he witnessed the captain’s death. At about 0930, the men were order to abandon ship and he swam to Ford Island.

Dick remained assigned to his ship until January 1944 when he was promoted to Field Musician Sergeant and was transferred to the 5th Marine Division. He participated in the landing and the bloody battle for the Japanese stronghold on Iwo Jima in 1945.

Pacific island. The fighting went on for 36 days and exacted a huge human toll: 6,800 Americans dead and more than 19,000 wounded. Of 20,000 Japanese defenders, only 1,083 survived. Fiske once described Iwo Jima as “36 straight days of Pearl Harbor.”

After the war, Dick enlisted in the newly established U.S. Air Force in 1948. He served in the Korean and Vietnam Wars as a Crew Chief. He retired from the Air Force in 1969 with the rank of Master Sergeant.

 

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Richard Fiske had been a volunteer at the USS Arizona Memorial since 1982.. Dick was given the honor to dedicate two roses once a month at the USS Arizona Memorial on behalf of Mr. Zenji Abe, (a Japanese pilot who participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor). After placing the flowers in front of the names of the USS Arizona casualties, he played “Taps” on his bugle. The flowers are paid by Mr. Abe and Dick will continue to do this special tribute for as long as he can.

Richard Fiske passed away in 2004.

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10 Responses to “Richard Fiske Marine Bugler at Pearl Harbor”

  1. Richard Hughes says:

    My Dad, Alfred Hughes, became the radar Lt on the new and improved USS West Virginia.
    I met Dick Fiske on multiple occasions at Pearl. My daughter Kimberly moved from Fl to Hi in ’99.
    When she married on Maui in 2002 my entire family flew to Pearl and the most honorable Dick Fiske stayed with us and went through his photo album shot by shot.
    What a true patriot!!!
    The U.S. was fortunate to have warriors of his nature.

  2. michael passmore says:

    i am researching my family history and have some Fiske family from watertown massachusetts that founded watertown. thank you Richard Fiske for your service. my father was ww2 wounded but never reported it but you can see the effect of get hit on back right leg with mortar shell as a ammunition handler in Italy.

  3. SABRINA BURNS says:

    My son is doing a report on Pearl Harbour. My husband and I visited the USS Arizona memorial in Sept 2002. It was right after 9/11. So there was a somber feeling in the nation. When we were in the memorial Mr Fiske placed flowers at the wall. He told us that the flowers had been purchased by a Japanese soldier that had taken part in the attack at Pearl Harbour. He then played Taps. It was one of the most bone chilling sounds I have ever heard. My son is including the pictures I took that day at the memorial. We are honored to have been present that day because I believe he only played there once a month. I took a few pictures if anyone is interested in them.

  4. nancy jean grissom says:

    I knew your dad very well Peggy, we talked a lot during my days there as a NPS Ranger. I watched him play the bugle with a Japanese bugler…I was in front as they looked into each others eyes, and all I saw was understanding.
    I have many pictures of your dad, and of that day.
    If you would like to see them, please contact me.
    I was honored to have worked with so many hero’s … and my favorite?
    Your dad.

  5. Bob Rea says:

    Mrs. Bundek,
    I never met your father but have seen him several times on television, again today December 7, 2017. I’ve visited the Arizona Memorial twice in the past
    as my father was also in our Navy during WW 2, (1942-1945) as a Lieutenant ironically assigned to the USS Tennessee after it was repaired. He passed on in 2002 and like your Dad was a great father and husband. Folks our age know from our experiences with them why they are called “The Greatest Generation”.
    Two of my sons also served in the US Navy which made their grandfather very proud. God Bless you and your family

    Bob Rea
    Cleburne, Texas

  6. Peggy Fiske Bundek says:

    Thank you for such a nice article on my Dad and also for the kind words of those who posted below on meeting him in Hawaii. He was a great Dad, husband and friend to all those with whom he spoke at The Arizona Memorial. We owe great respect and gratitude to those men and women who served during WWII as well as during Korea, Vietnam, and the Middle East. May God bless them and their families.

  7. Tammy Davis says:

    Me, my husband and young son, had the privelige of meeting Mr. Fiske at the USS Arizona, when we visited just a couple of weeks after 9/11. He was such a precious man. He was doing a photo shoot to promote a book he was doing. He was my son who was 8 at the time, and he wanted to talk to him about his experience. It was apparent that it was exceedingly important to him to impart to my son that war was not like in video games, but that it was a very real thing that affected real people. He got tears in his eyes as he talked with my son, sharing how he made peace with the pilot that had bombed his ship. It truly was the highlight of our trip. It is a memory we all took home and will never forget.

  8. Jon Crane SCPO US Navy, Retired says:

    I had the honor of meeting Mr. Fiske in 1997, when I was on vacation in Hawaii. I was at the time, a US Navy First Class Petty Officer, stationed in San Diego. While at the USS ARIZONA museum, I recognized Mr. Fiske from a Pearl Harbor Anniversary TV show I had recently seen. I rememebered his story of how he and other USS WEST VIRGINIA survivors, could hear their shipmates who were still trapped below decks, pounding on the pipes. He said they all put cotton balls in their ears, so they couldn’t hear them. The sound of them pounding on the pipes from below ended around Christmas he said. Truly heartbreaking to say the least.
    I talked with him for over an hour, he told me how he escaped ship and swam to Ford Island. He also told me he was on a gun team at IWO Jima, and showed me a binder which held a number of pictures of his buddies, and even some declassified sketches of known Japanese Pill Boxes and Gun Placements on the island. I will NEVER forget my talk with him, it had a huge impact on my life and Navy career. I always think of him around December 7th. Truly a great American, and hero. RIP Richard Fiske.

  9. Richard I.Mariotti says:

    My uncle was a very special person as well as my aunt Carmen. I will always cherish the times when I saw him talking about the Pearl Harbor attack. He was such a very brave and unrecognizaed hero.. I have reached out to my niece Peggy and will have to do better to not lose my heritage.
    He gave so much to all who visted the USS Arizona.

  10. It’s completely bizarre and VERY sentimental to realize Dick Fiske is now gone. We lived on Hickam Air Force Base from 95-99, and like relish and ketchup is to a cookout, that was his complete attachment to what it means to love, cherish, and remember. You cannot imagine, unless you somehow stumble upon a documentary about Pearl Harbor that contains his message, what an ambassador he is and always will be. He touched lives and generations, very humble about what it took to get past the war, PTSD (he referred to it, never put anyone on the spot), shock, grief, and also forgiveness and hatred. It was so uplifting, to hear him speak about the state of the world at that time, how horrible it was to have to live through and past this, to forgive the transgressions of Japanese prisoner of war camps that violated the Geneva Convention–and also to allow for room for the more well-publicized “atomic bomb” we felt was a necessity based on being sick of war, tired of sacrificing for everyone else…and trying to instill fear in a blind Japanese population who would do anything for “their” emperor. We just didn’t know what we were facing, and today, it doesn’t seem to be so astronomical. Thanks, Dick and colleagues you helped us face, to put a name and face to some horrific healing we all needed to do. God help us if we can’t honestly face how true it is that this isn’t all the fault of America!

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