Dr. John K. Fisher served in the U.S. Army from 1953 to 1955. He worked in a chemical warfare base in Maryland known as the Edgewood Arsenal. Before Dr. Fisher started his service, there were many impactful events he underwent during his childhood and adolescent years. When Dr. Fisher was five years old, he lived near a milk plant. While the workers left a fire burning to dispose of their trash, he and a few of his friends went to play and check out the fire. After getting too close to the blaze, young Dr. Fisher’s pants caught on fire. In a panic, his instinct was to run home as fast as he could, all the while his leg was burning at extreme temperatures. When he arrived home, his leg suffered massive third or fourth-degree burns across his entire leg. Hence, he was confined to a wheelchair for the next two years of his life, while undergoing many treatments to help his leg heal. After his two years went by, he was forced to learn how to walk from scratch. He described it as, “Like a baby, I had to learn to walk all over again. I started from crawling to holding on to things, later I could walk, then I could run. I was able to play with the other kids again.”
When Dr. Fisher was older, he attended a small school in New York called Alfred University where he would get his bachelor's degree in chemistry, mathematics, and psychology. However, during this time, the Korean War was at its prime, and he was going to be drafted into the Army. Before he was drafted, his father became ill with tuberculosis and Dr. Fisher obtained special permission from the draft board to stay home for another year while his father recovered. During this time, he enrolled in a master's program at Alfred University while his father recovered and obtained his master's degree before he was drafted. After his father recovered, the draft board sent him to basic training in New Jersey where he would train for the next few months before being ready for service in 1953. During his basic training, Dr. Fisher won medals in rifle and sharpshooting, and was even tasked with crawling across an open field with live machine gun rounds firing over his, and his fellow recruits’ heads while also avoiding dummy explosives. Needless to say, his training was rigorous.
With all the medals in sharpshooting that Dr. Fisher earned, he thought without a doubt that he would be shipped out to Korea as a sharpshooter or sniper. However, the Army found interest in his chemistry and mathematics degrees and sent him to work for the chief chemical warfare base in Maryland called the Edgewood Arsenal. Here he would spend the next two years for five days a week, working with extremely toxic and dangerous substances. The work they were doing there was so secret and so important that there were missile batteries positioned around the premises of the lab in an attempt to protect it from possible Russian attacks. Unfortunately, unbeknown to people working at Edgewood Arsenal, the chemicals that they were working with were causing mysterious cancers to pop up around the country, infecting many people that worked at the lab, including Dr. Fisher.
After leaving the Army in 1955, Dr. Fisher sought to work in high school education. However, the Army offered him a civilian job because of his extensive knowledge of chemistry, to which he declined. After teaching mathematics for some time, he rose the ranks and later became the assistant principal. However, Dr. Fisher wasn’t done yet. With some help, he rose through the ranks in higher education and later obtained his Ph.D. He ended up working at George Washington University where he taught military officers in the pentagon while also continuing to teach civilian students mostly in the mathematics field. He later continued his higher education career by moving to Connecticut and working as the president at Norwalk State Technical College. However, things would start to turn for the worse. In 1992, the Connecticut community colleges and the technical colleges would merge to become one. Dr. Fisher and the technical college president's group had to fight for the separation to be called off. Unfortunately, being outnumbered with six technical colleges and twelve community colleges, Dr. Fisher and his president's group lost the battle, and the colleges merged later that year.
While working in the joint college called Norwalk State Community-Technical College, he took the position of Dean for 12 years before moving once again to Saint Vincent’s College in 2004 as the president. Before partially retiring, Dr. Fisher returned to Norwalk as an adjunct professor before fully retiring five years ago in 2017. He now works for the Knights of Columbus as a head judge for the Catholic Citizenship Essay Contest, where students from around the Diocese of Bridgeport write essays about topics predominantly about our Catholic faith and compete to move up into the state, national, and international levels. My own class even had the privilege of having Dr. Fisher come into our class to hand out the certificates, and the awards to the lucky winners. In Dr. Fisher’s entire career, he has worked in 11 colleges and universities. “I’ve worked at 11 colleges and universities. I think I have the record on that.” Some advice that Dr. Fisher would give to young people not just considering the military, but also for their educational purposes is to try to get a college degree if you can. Going into the military with a college degree is beneficial because you have the luxury of going in as an officer instead of having to start at the very bottom of the ranks. However, this doesn't just apply to the military. If you have a college degree and education, it may be easier for you to get a job. Overall, Dr. Fisher has taken on a lot of responsibility throughout his life serving our country in the Army and dedicating numerous years of his life to the education of our nation’s youth.