Robert Lee Fisher – First Lieutenant, United States Army


Fort Ord Commandant and Deputy Among 6 Victims

OAKLAND, California, September 30, 1960 – An Army plane carrying six persons crashed today in the Orinda Hills today, killing all aboard including Major General Carl F. Fritzsche, Commandant of the Fort Ord Training Center.

Also killed in the crash was Brigadier General Thomas H. Hayes, 49 years old, Deputy Commander at Fort Ord, and his aide, Lieutenant Robert L. Fisher, 27.  Three crewmen also died in the flaming crash.

The plane was a single-engine craft and was taking General Fritzsche, 57, to the Presidio in San Francisco for a briefing tomorrow morning with Assistant Secretary of the Army Courtney Johnson.


General Hayes was going to the Presidio to meet and escort a group of civilians on a joint Army-civilian orientation conference at Fort Benning, Georgia.  The orientation group leaves here for the East Coast tomorrow morning.

Crewmen on the plane, which hit the hills near Orinda in a fog, were Chief Warrant Officer Richard K. Brown, 38, the pilot; Chief Warrant Officer Kenneth Kiester, 38, the co-pilot, and Specialist First Class Donald Peterman, 25, the crewman.  All were stationed at Fort Ord.

The plane was bound for Crissey Field in San Francisco, ninety-five miles north of Fort Ord.  The crash occurred some twenty miles east of this destination.

About five acres of brush and trees around the crash site were burned by the fire, although no homes in the area were endangered.

General Fritsche had planned earlier in the week to drive to Berkeley, California, for tomorrow’s football game between the University of California and the United States Military Academy.

The crash occurred about 4 P.M. Pacific Time (8 P.M. New York time).

General Fritzsche, a much-decorated West Pointer, had a varied military career, culminating in responsible posts in World War II and the Korean War.

A native of Cleveland, Ohio, he left Miami University after two years in 1924 to accept an appointment to the Military Academy.  After service in China in 1932-35, he returned to West Point as an instructor for four years and then attended the Command and General Staff College.

Following Pearl Harbor, he was assigned as Intelligence Chief to the First Armored Division, serving in the European Theater.  He returned for wartime duty as master of sword at West Point, and, after V-E day, became Deputy Chief of Army Intelligence in Europe.

In 1949 General Fritzsche was assigned to the Army War College where he became Chairman of the National Policy Group.  He went to Korea in 1952 as Assistant Commander of the Twenty-fifth Division, and served successively as Chief of the Korea Military Advisory Group and Chief of Staff of the Fifth Army.  He held the Legion of Merit, Croix de Guerre with Palm and the Bronze Star.

He is survived by his widow, the former Ann Crea, and two daughters, Mrs. Barbara Swing and Karla Fritzsche.

General Hayes was graduated from the United States Military Academy in 1934.  He held the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal.  He was born at Fort Snelling, Minnesota.  In 1939 he married Miss Katherine Winship, niece of Major General Blanton Winship, then Governor of Puerto Rico.


OAKLAND, California, October 1, 1960 – Two Army Generals and four other persons died Friday in the flaming crash of a small Army transport plane in a foggy residential area near here.

The high-ranking officers were: Major General Carl F. Fritzsche, 57, of Bedford, Ohio, Commanding General of the huge Army Training Center at Fort Ord, California, and former Chief of Staff for the 5th Army in Chicago, and Brigadier General Thomas H. Hayes, 49, of Macon, Georgia, Fritzsche’s Deputy Commander.

The single-engine Otter – a high wing land plane – hit the side of a hill just 200 yards from a house in the suburb of Orinda, 20 miles east of here.

Mrs. John Barron and her two children were in the home.

Smashing against the hill at an altitude of 1,300 feet, the plane hit a water tank and broke into pieces.

The bulk of the plane rolled 75 yards up the hill, burst into flames and touched off a brush fire which soon circled the aircraft.  It took firemen a half hour to put out the three acre blaze and reach the victims.

Others killed were: Lieutenant Robert L. Fisher, 27, Savannah, Georgia, aide to General Hayes; Chief Warrant Officer Richard K. Brown, 38, Seattle, Washington; Chief Warrant Officer Kenneth Kiester, 38, Hemingford, Nebraska, and Specialist 5th Class Donald E. Peterman, 25, North Hollywood, California.

Brown and Kiester were listed as co-pilots, although the Army said it didn’t know which one was at the controls.

The craft, flying from Fort Ord to Crissey Field at San Francisco’s Presidio, was carrying Fritzsche to 6th Army Headquarters for a briefing ceremony Saturday with Courtney Johnson, Assistant Secretary of the Army.

General Fritzsche was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Section 2, Site 3444 L H. Lieutenant Fisher was also buried there, in Section 48, Site 1815. Chief Warrant Officer Kiester was buried at Fort Logan National Cemetery in Section L,  Site 908. Specialist Peterson was buried at Golden Gate National Cemetery in Section X, Site 3937.


  • DATE OF BIRTH: 08/15/1933
  • DATE OF DEATH: 09/30/1960

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