It is one thing to write about an enemy. It is yet another to buy him dinner.
And yet another to salute to his honor.
Recently, I was able to spend a few weeks in Vietnam. The experience was a cannonball-dive into the culture; I got to know Vietnam's higher education system by lecturing at several universities*, dined outside of the stream of tourists, slept with all the modern conveniences of home and quickly learned to suspend all previous notions of what vehicle traffic should look and act like.
And of course, I managed to meet a few "old guys and draw their airplanes."
The sketch above is the MiG-21 flown by Nugyen Hong My, pilot, warrior, victor and victim. He is the first "enemy" pilot that I have met and the first enemy pilot that I will record via my artwork.
Watch this space as Hong My's fighter takes shape and his story is told. And recognize that 5018 merely the first of at least three (maybe more) to come.
Strap in. We're going North.
PS - The sketch above is rougher than my usual roughness as I did it while trying to work through a translator. It's incomplete and vague, a reflection of the opening of a relationship that spans so many years. The blurring in the upper right hand corner is the name and email of a USAF pilot who may or may not become part of this series.
And... thank you to General (Ret.) Dan Cherry and Stuart Maas (334th TFS) for getting this ball rolling. You'll be hearing more from them, too.
Oh! As for Hong My, that's him below looking at my opening sketch. Our translator, Huyen is getting a crash-course in all-things MiG...
*Foreign Trade University, Hanoi University, National Economics University and University of Language and International Studies