Until four years ago, the only memory they had of one another was when Daniel Cherry shot down New Yen Hong Me's plane in a dog fight over Hanoi in April, 1972.
But a Vietnamese game show known for reuniting family members aired a special episode where they brought the two fighter pilots back together. Now, 40 years later, the two are friends and reuniting in Minnesota for the 2012 AirExpo in Minnesota.
Cherry recalls reaching out to the producer of the game show, who found Hong Me and brought Cherry on to meet him.
“He was introduced very dramatically, and stepped out on the TV set from behind a curtain,” he told CBS Minnesota in a video, "He appeared, just like I would imagine a Vietnamese fighter pilot should look," added Cherry.
Now, a special bond has formed between the former enemies. Cherry has been to visit Hong Me in Vietnam and Hong Me has been to Kentucky. They've even held one another's grandsons.
Earlier this year, two U.S. Vietnam war veterans who fought alongside one another reunited for the first time in 42 years.
"It was a remarkable experience," Cherry told ABC 5, "Hong Me and I had only known each other for a couple of hours. I got very emotional ... about how quickly the trust had developed between the two of us, that he would allow me to hold his only grandson."
Recently, the two came together again at the Minneapolis-Saint Paul International Airport.
“What happened in the past were [sic] history, what happens in the present is our friendship, our true friendship, And I hope that our friendship sparks other friendships among Vietnamese and American veterans," Hong Me told CBS Minnesota through an interpreter upon arriving.
Cherry felt the same way.
"Reconciliation is a good thing. Holding grudges and not moving on from the past doesn't do any good at all. We hope our friendship can be an example to others," Cherry told KTSP.
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