Fred Cherry, POW in North Vietnam for seven years, dies at 87
The Washington Post
By Bart Barnes
Published: February 20, 2016
Fred Cherry, an Air Force fighter pilot, was downed by enemy fire over North Vietnam in 1965, and he spent more than seven years a prisoner of war.
He had grown up in the Jim Crow South, and his captors made it clear he could mitigate the harshness of his incarceration, including routine torture, and improve his living conditions by speaking out against the racial injustice and discrimination that he had faced as an African American in the United States.
When beatings failed to bring him around, his jailers tried another tactic. They assigned a self-described "Southern white boy" as his cellmate, hoping that racial antipathy between the two men would weaken his resolve and produce a propaganda triumph for North Vietnam.
The plan failed.
Instead, the two men, Cherry and a Navy fighter pilot, then-Ensign Porter Halyburton, became fast and lifelong friends. Each would credit the other with having saved his life.
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