Staff Sergeant Waldo Gearld Fisher
Staff Sergeant Waldo Gearld Fisher of Van Buren, U.S. Army, Vietnam, awards include the Silver Star medal for bravery, the Bronze Star medal, the Air medal, and the Combat Infantryman Badge, He received the Vietnam Veterans of America National Commendation medal and has served 14 years as President Chapter 416 of Vietnam Veterans of America in Ft. Smith.
Three decades ago, the Fort Smith National Cemetery was in need of someone to put American Flags on the gravestones for Memorial Day. Staff Sergeant Fisher, a member of the Vietnam Veterans of America Association Chapter 467, asked if his students could place the flags. With some reluctance, SSgt Fisher and his students at Darby Junior High School were given permission to decorate the National Cemetery. With the orders to take care of the cemetery, SSgt Fisher started teaching his student about flag protocol, wy it is important for the cemetery to be decorated during Memorial Day, and what it means to the families of the fallen veterans as well as the community. Students were selected to participate based on scholarship, behavior, and their willingness to give back to the community. SSgt Fisher’s students took the instruction give to them about the importance of the activity and delivered beyond expectations. The students did such an outstanding job, they were asked to return the following year. Darby Junior High School students continued to take care of the National Cemetery for the remaining time of SSgt Fisher’s teaching career at Darby Junior High School. The “Flag Trip” as it is known at Darby took on a completely new meaning for SSgt Fisher the last couple of years he was at Darby. SSgt Fisher’s son, Dustin, was killed in action in Iraq. His remains were buried at the Fort Smith National Cemetery. With Dustin being buried at the National Cemetery, the flag trip became personal. SSgt Fisher would tell all of the students how it made him feel seeing a flag on his son’s grave. He would always ask students if they had relatives buried at the National Cemetery and allow them to go out before any of the other students and place a flag on the grave of their relatives. He wanted the trip to be personal for the students. When SSgt Fisher retired from teaching, the flag trip did not stop. The Social Studies department has adopted the flag trip and made sure the legacy of SSgt Fisher’s service project continued. Even though SSgt Fisher stepped away from the classroom, he is still actively involved. Along with the Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter, SSgt Fisher still teaches students about the importance of the project and what it means. He greets students every year at the cemetery and teaches them the history of the project along with the importance of giving back. Prior to Memorial Day 2016, over 140 students placed over 13,000 flags on graves at the National Cemetery. Each grave was given the special attention it deserved. This is done because of Staff Sergeant Waldo Fisher.
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