T-AKR 301, the second ship of the Bob Hope class of sealift ships being built for the Navy by Avondale Industries, Inc., will be named in honor of Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher, two Americans who have committed their lives to improving the quality of life for our nation's sailors, marines, airmen and soldiers.
When Secretary of the Navy John Dalton made the announcement that the next strategic sealift ship would be named USNS FISHER, he said, "There is no way to repay the Fishers for their decades of support, but this gesture-naming a ship in their honor-is the Navy's way of saying thank you very much."
Zachary Fisher, a prominent New York City builder, and his wife, Elizabeth, were instrumental in transforming the historic aircraft carrier USS Intrepid into a museum "so that future generations could appreciate the sacrifices made by a few to guarantee the liberties and freedoms of many..." The Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum opened in August 1982.
Mr. Fisher and his wife, Elizabeth, are dedicated to enhancing the public perception of the U.S. Military. In 1983, the Fishers founded the Zachary and Elizabeth M. Fisher Armed Services Foundation. Fisher Houses, which in 1996 totaled 24, exist to provide free housing for military families in times of crisis. The Foundation has provided substantial direct payments to the surviving families of service people, including the forty-seven members of the IOWA. The Foundation also provides college scholarships for dependents of military personnel.
President Bush, who dedicated the first Fisher Comfort House in Bethesda, Maryland, on June 24, 1991, said "Elizabeth and Zachary Fisher are Brilliant Points of Light. This kind of dedication and ingenuity has made ours the strongest, and the most caring nation in the world."
When presented with the Presidential Citizens Medal in April 1995, President Clinton said of Zachary Fisher, "You are legendary sir ... for your generosity to families of those who gave their lives to defend democracy and maintain this country's security. Your compassion and dedication are shining examples of patriotism for every American."
Only four other people have been honored by having Navy ships named after them in their own lifetimes: Georgia Statesman Carl Vinson, Former Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Arleigh Burke, Former President Ronald Reagan, and entertainer Bob Hope.
Mr. Fisher has received the Department of Transportation's Meritorious Public Service Award, in recognition of his efforts to preserve and promote the history of the Coast Guard. In 1988, President Reagan awarded Mr. Fisher the prestigious Volunteer Action Award for his work with the INTREPID Sea-Air-Space Museum, the Veterans Bedside Network, the Marine Scholarship Foundation, and Honor America.