John Fer was born in 1937 in Long Beach, California. He was commissioned through the U.S. Air Force Academy on June 6, 1962, and completed Undergraduate Pilot Training at Laredo AFB, Texas, on August 6, 1963. After completing additional training, Lt Fer was assigned to the 4365th Post Attack Command Control Squadron at Plattsburgh AFB, New York, from October 1963 to October 1964, when he was assigned to the 530th Bomb Squadron, also at Plattsburg, where he served until July 1966. Capt Fer began flying combat missions in Southeast Asia as an EB-66C Destroyer pilot with the 41st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron at Takhli Royal Thai AFB, Thailand, in July 1966, and he was forced to eject over North Vietnam while flying his 55th combat mission on February 4, 1967. He was immediately captured and taken as a Prisoner of War. After spending 2,220 days in captivity, Capt Fer was released during Operation Homecoming on March 4, 1973. He was hospitalized to recover from his injuries at March AFB, California, before attending Air Command and Staff College at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, graduating in November 1974. After completing refresher flight training, Fer was assigned to the 366th Tactical Fighter Wing at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho, from November 1975 to April 1976. He served as an instructor at the U.S. Air Force Academy from April 1976 to July 1979, and then served at Headquarters USAF in the Pentagon from July 1979 to June 1984. Col Fer then became the Director of Operational Services for 9th Air Force at Shaw AFB, South Carolina, where he served from June 1984 to August 1987. He served as the Deputy Commander for the 486th Tactical Missile Wing at Woensdrecht AB, The Netherlands, from August 1987 to May 1988. His final assignment was at Rhein Main AB, West Germany, where he served from May 1988 until his retirement from the Air Force on June 30, 1990. Col Fer is a Command Pilot and accumulated 1,296 flying hours during his Air Force career flying the B-47 Stratojet, RB-66 and EB-66 Destroyer, T-38 Talon, and F-111 Aardvark aircraft.
His 1st (of 2) Silver Star Citation reads:
Captain John Fer distinguished himself by gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force in Southeast Asia on 4 February 1967. On that date, Captain Fer led a flight of two unarmed electronic countermeasures support aircraft and four high cover aircraft into an extremely hazardous area to suppress radar controlled antiaircraft artillery and surface to air missiles in support of strike aircraft. Aware of the possibility of lethal missile sites and hostile aircraft in the area, Captain Fer continued on the mission. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Captain Fer has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.