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Tue, Jun 08, 2010

Former Enemies Reunite In NC To Promote Book

"My Enemy… My Friend" 2nd Edition Published 35 Years After The End Of The Vietnam War

Brigadier General Dan Cherry, USAF (ret.), and former Vietnamese fighter pilot Nguyen, Hong My talked about planes, and toasted their grandchildren, at events in Goldsboro and Raleigh, NC last week.

And the two once again demonstrated the redemptive power of peace.

Two years ago, they were long-lost enemies brought together by a series of coincidences that showed war for what it often is: a disagreement between friends who haven’t yet had a chance to meet.

In the wake of the 35th anniversary of the end of the Vietnam War, Cherry and Nguyen are reuniting for the third time in as many years to promote Cherry’s recently released second edition of his book, "My Enemy, My Friend". The book chronicles the unlikely friendship that developed between these two men who fought on opposite sides of the war, and the resulting healing and reconciliation that their journey has inspired along the way.

F-4 Phantom File Photo

After Cherry shot down Nguyen’s MiG-21 on April 16, 1972, it would be 36 years before the two would meet again on that infamous anniversary: first in Vietnam to be reunited on national TV and then the following year in Bowling Green, Kentucky, Cherry’s hometown, for the dedication ceremony of Aviation Heritage Park, where Cherry’s Phantom F-4 that he flew in the war was refurbished and put on exhibit. Last year, Cherry and Hong My also traveled to Washington, D.C. to visit Goldsboro-based John Stiles, a U.S. navigator in a reconnaissance plane that Hong My was decorated for downing in the war. Since their initial meeting, the three have become good friends.

Cherry and Hong My spoke at a series of aviation events last week. On Friday, they appeared at the Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in Goldsboro, in an event for base personnel. Saturday, Cherry and Hong My took part in a panel discussion at the Air America Reunion in Raliegh. Stiles attended both events as well.

Adding an interesting twist to the story, Cherry learned that Hong My has worn a gold class ring that he purchased at a jewelry store in Vietnam after the war. Engraved on the ring: Mackin High School, Class of 1972, Washington, D.C. Cherry has been helping Hong My track down the owner of that class ring, so that Hong My can personally return it and bring closure to a difficult period. Class ring maker Josten’s plans to present a commemorative ring to Hong My to replace the one he has worn on the ring finger of his left hand for the past 35 years.

MiG-21 File Photo

“We’re now looking in earnest for any members of Mackin High School Class of 1972 who served in the military,” Cherry said. “More specifically, we want to find class members who served in Southeast Asia, when they served and what branch they served in. We’re trying to determine if any members of the class were wounded or killed in Southeast Asia. Depending on what we learn, this can be a coda to a remarkable turn of events.”

In the meantime, Cherry met earlier this month with Class of 1972 alumni from Mackin High School -- which was incorporated into what is now Archbishop Carroll High School -- to help in the process of identifying which of the 93 peers may have gone on to serve in Southeast Asia.



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