Thanh Nien News | Special report
Reality show befriends enemies
General Daniel Edwards Cherry (L) chats with ex-pilot Nguyen Hong My (R). They fought each other in a fierce air battle during the war. Thirty-six years later, the pilots meet again on grounds of peace and reconciliation. American brigade general Daniel Edwards Cherry convened with his one-time enemy, former MIG-21 pilot Nguyen Hong My, for the first time last night on a television program that helps audiences find their lost ones.
“I have always wondered who he was,” Cherry wrote in a letter to Vietnam Television (VTV)’s Nhu chua he co cuoc chia ly (As if we never part) program asking for help to locate the counterpart whom he had tried to shoot down on the morning of April 16, 1972 over the Hanoi sky.
Cherry faced his old rival Saturday in VTV’s studio in Ho Chi Minh City, finding him alive, healthy, friendly and ready to acknowledge his defeat.
“You won that battle,” My told Cherry with a smile.
My said that day, he had succeeded in dodging two missiles from Cherry before his plane was shot down by another US vessel and he had to parachute out.
Earlier that day, Cherry and another pilot had been hunting for north Vietnam’s main fighter aircraft, Russian MIG planes, in a misty sky about 30 miles from Hanoi.
The two American pilots spotted one in the vicinity and shot a total of five missiles at it which all missed.
Furious, Cherry increased his speed and shot another missile that hit the enemy’s right wing.
The plane burst into flames and Cherry saw the pilot jump out of the plane at 500 feet above the ground.
This was the first and only MIG plane Cherry managed to shoot down during the US-led war in Vietnam.
Ever since that day, the American never stopped thinking about his Vietnamese counterpart, whom he believed shared the same courage and spirit as him although they had tried to kill each other.
My, on the other hand, never thought about the US aircraft that brought him down.
After the fight, he broke his arms and could not fly again.
He subsequently went to college to study English and finance and worked for Bao Viet Insurance Company until he retired.
My was surprised to learn that Cherry wanted to track him down.
“I’m happy you are healthy,” My greeted his shooter when they met face to face last night. The two said thirty-six years had worn out any post-war bitterness.
“Those days are gone,” Cherry said.
“The important aspect that stems from the war now is the relationships between our two countries and people.”
My said the meeting was not merely a tête-à-tête between him and Cherry to reminisce on past times but serves as an ongoing reconciliation process between the two countries.
All diplomacy aside, the two individuals said they believed their meeting was the beginning of a long-lasting friendship.
My promised to show his American friend more of Hanoi during this trip and Cherry expressed hope to invite his long lost Vietnamese pilot to visit the US one day.
REALITY TELEVISION WITH A HUMANITARIAN MISSION
Reported by Thuy Linh
Story from Thanh Nien News
Published: 06 April, 2008, 10:36:05 (GMT+7)
Copyright Thanh Nien News
View the Vietnamese video clip of Dan Cherry’s interview