03/17/13 — Vietnam veterans to share experiences in two speeches

View Archive

Vietnam veterans to share experiences in two speeches

By From staff reports
Published in News on March 17, 2013 1:50 AM

Full Size

News-Argus file photo

The traveling Vietnam Memorial is shown here during its last visit to the area -- to Kinston in 2011.

Two fighter pilots from the Vietnam War will be guest speakers during ceremonies honoring the coming of The Wall That Heals, the traveling replica of The Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, to Wayne County.

Retired Air Force Col. John Stiles and retired Brig. Gen. Dan Cherry will speak on April 16 and April 18, during the week that the wall will be at Wayne Community College.

The two pilots have more in common than just the fact that they were in theater together. Stiles was shot down by a North Vietnamese pilot, Lt. Nguyen Hong My, but managed to escape from behind enemy lines.

My was later shot down by Cherry.

All three men lived to tell their tales and many years after the war, have become friends, a story partly chronicled in Cherry's book, "My Enemy, My Friend."

On the evening of April 16, after the wall arrives, Carl Kasell of National Public Radio fame, who is a native of Goldsboro, will interview Stiles in Moffatt Auditorium, beginning at 7 p.m.

After being shot down in January 1972, Stiles repeatedly evaded capture behind enemy lines before being rescued by elements of the CIA.

On the evening of April 18, after the wall has been erected and unveiled to the public, Cherry will deliver his accounts of his experiences in Vietnam, focusing on his relationship with Stiles and My. Cherry shot down My three months after My shot down Stiles. Thirty-five years later, the three met and became friends. The event also will start at 7 p.m.

Tickets to the speakers' events are available by contacting the Foundation of Wayne Community College at 919-739-7017. They may be obtained by visiting the foundation office in the Dogwood building on the college campus.

The wall is expected to arrive in Goldsboro from South Boston, Va., on Tuesday, April 16. The stop at Wayne Community College will be its only stop in North Carolina this year.