Personal Giving Stories

 

Pension & Life Insurance Gifts Create Tribute to His Disabled Father,
D-Day Survivor

donor-fischer.jpg Mike Fischer of Grove City, Pennsylvania, called this year to learn how to name the DAV the beneficiary of his Department of Corrections pension plan and Fraternal Order of Police life insurance. The answer was: just a simple change of beneficiary form! Mike’s motivation goes back to a day 40 years ago, in 1968. He ran into the father of his good high school friend, Ted Dalton, who had been serving in Vietnam, and was informed that Ted had been killed in action. Mike looked over to see the younger brother, age 12, sitting quietly in the family car. "It just hit home with me: payback. I decided to enlist in a direct combat support unit as an outward sign of respect for our friendship, knowing full well my destination."

Mike served in Vietnam with the Army from 1969-70 and returned home changed. A skin condition that surfaced many years later has turned into melanoma. He has daily thoughts of Vietnam and two lifelong regrets: "Wishing I could have done more, and letting down the Vietnamese people by pulling out." He went on to retire from two careers, first as a Pennsylvania municipal police officer, then a state corrections officer.

Mike began giving to the DAV soon after his father, John, died in 1999. John had been a proud yet humble member of the First Infantry Division which landed on Omaha Beach, D-Day. Weeks later, while John's squad was crossing a street in a small French town, they were hit by mortar fire.

Everyone was killed except John, who suffered terrible shrapnel wounds to his back. He spent months recuperating, lying on his stomach. Much of the shrapnel could not be removed. Once he recuperated, he returned to stateside duty then worked 38 years in a steel mill.

His father’s disability benefit was so small that Mike thought he had a "raw deal." Mr. Fischer never risked going to the VA hospital because a few of his friends, who did, had their disability ratings reduced. Meanwhile, as the years went by, he grew more stooped and disabled as the muscle damage worsened. Mike says, looking back, “I know how my father suffered. What most struck me is that he never bragged or talked about his experiences; he just accepted it—the sign of a real hero. He did get upset at the anniversaries of D-Day, because it was just another day to most people. He thought the media and government should have done more to remind us of what veterans had gone through.

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