The Washington Post reports the sad news that Fred V. Cherry, an African-American combat pilot of the Korean War who was shot down during the Vietnam War and held as a prisoner for 2671 days has passed on to his reward.
“The plane exploded and I ejected at about 400 feet at over 600 miles an hour,” Col. Cherry wrote in a 1999 collection of war stories by POWs and Medal of Honor recipients. “In the process of ejection, I broke my left ankle, my left wrist, and crushed my left shoulder. I was captured immediately upon landing by Vietnamese militia and civilians.”
“I spent 702 days in solitary confinement,” he added, with the longest period lasting 53 weeks. “At one time I was either tortured or in punishment for 93 straight days.”
Cherry was released with the first group of POWs on February 12th, 1973. Fellow-POW Porter Halyburton says of Cherry;
“I was so inspired by Fred’s toughness,” Halyburton said. “He had grown up in the racial South [and] undergone a lot of discrimination and hardship. But he was such an ardent patriot. He loved this country. It inspired me, and it inspired a lot of others.”
Cherry was awarded two Bronze Star Medals, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Legion of Merits, a Silver Star and an Air Force Cross.
Category: Blue Skies