By Frank Vascellaro

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Two men, who tried to kill each other 40 years ago, met at the Minneapolis airport this afternoon.

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Dan Cherry and New Yen Hong Me were fighter pilots in Vietnam, on opposite sides of the war. They engaged in a dog fight over Hanoi in April 1972.

Cherry blew the wing off Hong Me’s jet with a missile. Hong Me was able to eject, and the two met in Vietnam four years ago.

Hong Me is in Minnesota for the Air Expo this weekend at Flying Cloud airport.

The duo met face-to-face for the first time on a Vietnamese television show that reunites people, usually long-lost relatives. It was 2008, and Cherry said he was nervous.

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“(Hong Me) was introduced very dramatically, and stepped out on the TV set from behind a curtain,” Cherry said. “He appeared, just like I would imagine a Vietnamese fighter pilot should look.”

The two have met a couple of more times in the past four years. Cherry held Hong Me’s grandchild in Vietnam. Hong Me held Cherry’s grandchild in Kentucky. Cherry even wrote a short book about their friendship, called “My Enemy, My Friend.”

Hong Me talked to reporters today with the help of an interpreter.

“What happened in the past were (sic) history, what happens in the present is our friendship, our true friendship,” Hong Me said through the interpreter. “And I hope that our friendship sparks other friendships among Vietnamese and American veterans.”

Cherry says this is the fifth time he and Hong Me have been together. On one of the visits, the two went to the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington D.C.

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“And he became very emotional, and teared up, as we were walking by the wall, in Washington D.C., with all those 58,000 American names on it,” Cherry said.

Frank Vascellaro