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

  1. John Richard Poprosky says:

    I had the honor of meeting mr. Fiske at Pearl Harbor on December 7th 2001. We spoke for quite some time aproximately 20 minutes. as we spoke I asked him about the piece of green metal he had on a dog tag chain around his neck. I knew it had to be something special for him to be wearing it on that day. he looked down and flipped it over and the other side was red. he told me it was a piece of the Rising Sun off of the wing of a Japanese zero that have been shot down during the attack. he said the MPS guarded it for three days and then after that people began taking pieces for souvenirs and he cut that piece out of the Rising Sun. he then took it off of his neck and handed it to me I couldn’t believe it I was holding a piece of a Japanese zero that bomb Pearl Harbor. he was such a humble and gracious man and a true patriot ! I am a better person for having met him.Always “REMEMBER PEARL HARBOR”.

  2. Robert Geloneck says:

    I was watching the History channel today, and felt compelled to look up this wonderful man afterward due to A WWII story that was on speaking of him. What an honor it must’ve been to be around such a national hero like that. Everyone will be forever in his families debt due to the time he served our country. Over and over again I might add.

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