Vietnam veteran shares aerial victory, Aviation Heritage Park museum nears completion

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) – 50 years ago today, one of the members of Bowling Green claimed victory in the skies of Vietnam.

Aviation Heritage Park President Mike Cowles said, “On April 16, 1972, Dan Cherry was engaged in aerial combat over North Vietnam with a MiG-21 and shot down that aircraft.

Cherry, himself, told his story of dogfighting at today’s event with a special presentation.

Her book, My Enemy-My Friend, tells how her life came full circle…for forgiveness and friendship.

Vietnam veteran Dan Cherry says, “For a few hours there, it crossed my mind to wonder if he had any family, what was his name, where did he go to school ? But you don’t have time to dwell on that because the next day I was on another combat mission.

Cherry and the pilot whose plane he shot down are miraculously good friends to this day.

“I honestly didn’t expect to hear about it anymore, but it wasn’t until two weeks later that I got another email from her and she said, ‘We found the brave MiG pilot , and we want you to come to Vietnam and see it on national television live, and I was blown away,” Cherry says.

The inspiration for Aviation Heritage Park began when Cherry and friends brought the Phantom 550 to Bowling Green in 2005.

They were able to restore it to its original colors and exhibit it in the park in 2008.

Cherry says, “If we could get the Air Force to allow us to take possession of the Phantom 550, we could restore it and make it the cornerstone of an educational institution. Something to keep the stories alive, and also to tell stories that would motivate and inspire younger generations.

The addition to the park is nearing completion with the construction of the museum and will continue to recognize these unsung heroes.

Cowles says, “We’ve finished about two-thirds of the build. The whole structure, the whole exterior and part of the interior are finished. We just wanted to give everyone a chance to come see the museum.

Aviation Heritage Park is open to the public free of charge daily from 8:00 a.m. to dusk.

For more information, visit aviationheritagepark.com.

Copyright 2022 WBKO. All rights reserved.

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