This article appeared in the Chillicothe, Ohio Gazette to honor Gerald on Memorial Day 2020

Carl Gerald Fisher: A member of America’s Greatest Generation 1918 – 2020

The two eyes staring through the window at the squirrels scampering around in the backyard of the residence in the Sherman Oaks Housing addition Chillicothe, Ohio are the eyes of a member of America’s “Greatest Generation.” 

The antics of the two squirrels, scampering up and down the trees and playing with each other, delights this centenarian. His eyes are not what they once were but he is still able to observe nature as it is played out in this backyard. These eyes observing the squirrels are the same eyes that once stared across the rolling hills and wooded landscape of Nazi Germany in 1944-1945 observing the Nazis retreating to their homeland.

Carl Gerald Fisher was born April 21, 1918 in Gratiot, Ohio, the firstborn of Carl W. and Ferol Ankrum Fisher. Gerald, as he would be called later in life, would become the older brother when his little brother, Joyce Eugene Fisher, was born to Carl and Ferol.

The father, Carl W., born in 1897, was a veteran of War I having served as an escort driver for officers in his unit. Seven months after Gerald’s birth his father would return from the war and see his son for the first time. World War I came to an end on November 11, 1918. 

Gerald’s parents were farmers and from an early age he had to help his parents with the farm chores. Gerald, along with his little brother, was counted on to milk the cows, slop the hogs, feed the chickens and cultivate the fields for crops. His life was that typical of a Midwestern farm boy of the early twentieth century.

When Gerald was five the local school system approached his parents and asked if they would enroll Gerald early in school as they were having trouble getting enough children for a first grade class. Gerald’s early enrollment led to him graduating from Hopewell High School when he was 17 years old. Gerald walked the approximately 2 miles to the local school or as he later mused, “Sometimes rode a mule to school.” Gerald stood only about five foot six inches tall but he played basketball in school and loved playing baseball as well. 

Later in life Gerald would play fast pitch softball on several teams in his area and become a life-long Cleveland Indians fan hardly ever missing a broadcast of their games. After high school he and his brother worked hauling milk from the farms of Muskingum and Licking Counties to the local dairy.  After delivering the milk the brothers would deliver ice to the rural households in the afternoon.  Blocks of ice weighed one hundred pounds and their customers would either take a full or half block; it was back breaking work even for young men.

In June of 1944 while living in Lancaster, Ohio area he was drafted into the United States army and sent to Fort Thomas, Kentucky for training. After training Gerald was sent to serve in the army in the Rhineland and Central Europe as a member of 961st Field Artillery Battalion. From that time until the end of the war he served his country in combat pursuing and fighting the Germans as they began retreating back into their homeland.  In his military records he is listed as an ammunition NCO, loading and supplying artillery shells, providing security for the guns, and occasionally driving the trucks. Records of the 961 Field Artillery Battalion show they were moved all over Germany in their pursuit of the enemy. During his service he received the EAME Theater Ribbon w/2 bronze stars, Good Conduct Medal, and the Victory Medal, World War II. 

During the war Gerald’s younger brother, Eugene, had also been drafted and was serving somewhere in Europe but it was not known where.  One day, while standing in a chow line in France waiting for his food Gerald looked over into another line and saw a familiar figure, his brother Eugene was in that chow line. The reunion was great knowing that each was safe and healthy. On April 8, 1946 he was discharged from the army having reached the rank of sergeant in the 961st Field Artillery Battalion.

After the military Gerald returned to his home area of Gratiot, and returned to farming, marrying Nancy Johnson in 1950. He and Nancy had two children, Marsha and Gary. The brothers ran a small excavation business also hauling gravel, limestone, coal, and other items for the people in that area. Gerald was also active in his community serving for many years as the commander of a local American Legion post, county trustee, and other local offices.  His community service made him a well-known and popular member of the Licking and Muskingum County area.  He enjoyed good health the majority of his life and did not quit actively working until he was 90 years old.

On April 21, 2020, this member of our greatest generation turned 102 years old. He is no longer able to walk and communication with him is difficult but he is alert otherwise. They moved to Ross County in 2019 from the Gratiot area because a fire destroyed part of their house. 

Statistics tell us we are losing World War II veterans at a rate of 348 per day with an estimated 500,000 still living of the 16 million that served. Gerald, his brother Eugene, and the other veterans of World War II saved the world from the tyranny of the Axis Powers and maintained freedom for our country. We cannot honor them enough.