Monday night, SCATS campers went to a presentation given by Bowling Green native General Dan Cherry. He has an impressive number of military accomplishments gained over a long and fruitful career in the US Air Force.
He came to camp to tell the story of a singular event from his experience flying in the Vietnam War. During a flight into North Vietnamese airspace, he and his squad encountered three Vietnamese pilots in Soviet-built aircraft.
He and his wingman split off to pursue one of them which had been laying in wait to ambush the flight. After a pitched dogfight, Gen. Cherry shot down the opposing aircraft.
Years later, as he told, he began to wonder about the fate of the pilot. He went through a Vietnamese television program that facilitated reunions between long-separated people, and was able to find and reunite with the other pilot, Nguyen Hong My. Their meeting ignited a friendship that continues to this day.
The goal of this presentation was to instruct the campers in the classic virtue of forgiveness even in the face of incredible past animosity. And to hear the kids talk afterwards, the message got through loud and clear. It was a very rewarding and emotionally satisfying experience.