New Suffolk Middle School Named After Local Vietnam Veteran

A new middle in North Suffolk is honoring a local Air Force Colonel and Vietnam War veteran. The Suffolk School Board voted unanimously to name the new school Col. Fred Cherry Middle School.

Col. Cherry was the first and highest-ranking black officer to become a prisoner of war in Vietnam. His aircraft was shot down Oct. 22, 1965, at the age of 37.

Cherry was freed Feb. 12, 1973. He went on to retire on Sept. 1, 1981, after attending the National War College and being assigned to the Defense Intelligence Agency and having served more than 30 years in the Air Force. He later founded his own engineering company.

The name was the recommendation of a six-member naming committee. The Cherry name received four votes on the committee. The other proposed names, Maritime Middle School and Northern Shores Middle School, received one vote each.

The board had to waive its own policy that requires a deceased individual to be dead for 10 years before a school is considered to be named after them.