Herbert Thayer Fichman – Captain, United States Navy

Captain Herbert Thayer Fichman, 84, who was honored for his service in Korea and who later taught mathematics as an assistant professor at Montgomery College, died December 9, 2004, of prostate cancer at his home in Bethesda, Maryland.

He began his military career in November 1941 as a naval aviator. As a young ensign, he was injured aboard the carrier USS San Jacinto when his wingman's airplane landed on top of his own on the carrier's flight deck. His injuries included amnesia, which he managed to conceal from his superiors, and the loss of one finger on his right hand. However, he proved his continued manual dexterity by displaying his skill at sleight-of-hand card tricks and was able to regain his flight status.

In 1953, he fought in the Korean War as commanding officer of Fighter Squadron 92, stationed aboard the USS Valley Forge. He was shot down in Wonsan Harbor. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross for his service in Korea, among other medals.

During his naval career, he served as assistant chief of staff on the combined U.N. and U.S. Forces Korea staff in Seoul and later as the director of the Naval Weapons Quality Assurance Office in Washington. He retired from the Navy in 1966.

In 1967, Captain Fichman served as an associate professor of mathematics at Capital Institute of Technology in Kensington and, from 1972 through 1974, as the dean of academics. He taught briefly at American University and later became an assistant professor at Montgomery College. He retired from teaching in the mid-1980s.

Captain Fichman was born in New Orleans, the son of a rabbi who directed Jewish Social Services in New Orleans. He had the early distinction of winning a blue ribbon in an Elks Lodge baby contest.

He studied aeronautical engineering at Louisiana State University and received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School in 1951 and a master's degree in industrial engineering at Purdue University in 1952.

His marriage to Marilyn Wright ended in divorce.

Captain Fichman, who moved to Bethesda in 1956, enjoyed entertaining his listeners with stories of his experiences as a youth in New Orleans and as a young naval aviator.

He also relished giving New Orleans-style parties at his home, preparing and serving crepes suzette while the recordings of tenor saxophonist Stan Getz and jazz great Louis Armstrong played in the background. Later in the evening, Capt. Fichman would play along with the jazz records on a set of bongo drums that he acquired during his travels in the military.

With his wife, he enjoyed playing bridge and golfing at the Bethesda Country Club as well as frequent travels in Europe.

Survivors include his wife, whom he married in 1981, Barbara Fraser Fichman of Bethesda; five children from his first marriage, Barbara Fichman of Bethesda, Jessica Fichman of Annandale, Robert Fichman of Canton, Mass., Jonathan Fichman of Columbia, and David Fichman of Matthews, N.C.; four stepchildren, Frank Martin of San Diego, Donald Martin of Maple Grove, Minn., and Katherine Martin and Gregory Martin, both of Bethesda; 11 grandchildren; and seven step-grandchildren.


On Thursday, December 9, 2004, of Bethesda, Maryland. Husband of Barbara M. Fichman of 23 years; loving father of Barbara Fichman (Greg Filas) of Bethesda, Maryland, Jessica Fichman of Annandale, Virginia, Robert Fichman (Susan Harrington) of Canton, Massachusetts, Jonathan (Lisa) Fichman of Columbia, Maryland and David (Monica) Fichman of Matthews, North Carolina; stepfather of Katherine, Gregory, Frank, and Donald Martin; beloved grandfather of Matthew, Andrew, Cosmo, Victoria, Christopher, Claire, Nicholas, Madeline, Aldo, Ryan, and Kyra; step-grandfather of Amber, David, Kristin, Michael, Daniel, Douglas, and Shawn.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in his name to Montgomery Hospice, 1355 Piccard Drive, Suite 100, Rockville, MD 20850, www.montgomeryhospice.org or Navy Relief Fund, 8901 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, Maryland 20814



  • DATE OF BIRTH: 09/10/1920
  • DATE OF DEATH: 12/09/2004

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