Cherry scholarship announced

Published 8:49 pm Saturday, December 12, 2009

The Suffolk Foundation announced recently it will begin administering the Col. Fred V. Cherry Scholarship.

The scholarship was established by Margaret Reid about 30 years ago in honor of Col. Fred Vann Cherry, a Suffolk native who was a Prisoner of War in Vietnam from October 1965 to February 1973.

“We were not in charge of it until just recently,” Suffolk Foundation executive director William Hill said. “Unfortunately, most of the people that were involved are no longer alive.”

Cherry, born in 1928, graduated from Virginia Union University in 1951 and entered the U.S. Air Force that same year, according to information on the P.O.W. Network. He attended flight school and completed jet fighter pilot training, and flew more than 50 combat missions over North Korea. During the Vietnam War, Cherry flew more than 52 missions before he was shot down on Oct. 22, 1965 and was captured.

Cherry remained a prisoner until February 1973. He retired from the military in 1981, having been awarded more than 30 decorations. In addition to two Purple Hearts, Cherry also earned the Air Force Cross, the Silver Star, the Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, two Distinguished Flying Crosses, two Bronze Stars, the Air Force Commendation, the Meritorious Service Award, two President Unit Citations, and a Distinguished Unit Citation.

Because of the deaths of many of the trustees of the Fred V. Cherry Foundation, the scholarship has not been awarded for the past several years. The Suffolk Foundation was asked to take over its administration in perpetuity, Hill said.

The organization received about $40,000 to provide an annual award to a graduating senior from a Suffolk high school who has a grade point average of 3.0 or better and demonstrates financial need. The amount of the scholarship has yet to be determined, but will likely be between $1,000 and $2,000, Hill said.

The Suffolk Foundation also gives awards to various organizations in the city and administers the Howard Mast Scholarship, both of which will be separate from the Col. Fred V. Cherry Scholarship.

An application for the Cherry scholarship will be available beginning Feb. 1, 2010 on the foundation’s Web site, www.suffolkfoundation.org, as well as in high school counselors’ offices. For more information, call 923-9090 or e-mail bhill@suffolkfoundation.org.