It sometimes seems as though the only stories you hear about Vietnam War POWs are those involving American pilots who were shot down over North Vietnam and held prisoner in the infamous Hanoi Hilton. But there were plenty of other non-Hanoi Hilton POW stories—including those involving Americans who were captured on the ground in South Vietnam and held by the Viet Cong.
A newly opened exhibit at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum in Fayetteville, North Carolina, “The Animal Called POW,” pays tribute to Special Forces troops and other American military personnel who were captured and held prisoner by the VC during the war. As was the case with the Americans held in the Hanoi Hilton, the troops take prisoner by the Viet Cong were forced to endure hellish conditions, often involving torture.
The exhibit,which opened last month and runs through next January, features a “Forrest of Darkness” in which visitors walk inside a VC indoctrination hut and come face to face with a bambo tiger cage that houses an American POW. There also are artifacts, dioramas, and video screens explaining what life was like for POWs in South Vietnam.
The exhibit was inspired by a bamboo tiger cage that was displayed in the museum in 2011 to honor Vietnam veterans. The cage contained a mannequin representing former U.S. Special Forces Lt. James M. “Nick” Rowe, who was captured by the Viet Cong in the fall of 1963 in the Mekong Delta and held prisoner for five years. He made a daring escape on December 31, 1968, just before he was about to be executed.
In 1981, Rowe (who died in 1989) helped set up the Army’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape (SERE) training program, which is located at Camp Mackall, which is in the Fayetteville, area—as is Fort Bragg, the headquarters of the Army’s Special Operations Command. SERE students, in fact, had built the “tiger cage” last year for the display.
Posted on March 9th 2012 in Museums
“Fly Marines! The Centennial of Marine Corps Aviation: 1912-2012″ is the name of a new exhibit that opened on January 14 at the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. The exhibit is made up of 91 works of art—mostly depicting Marine Corps aviation subjects— selected from the Marine Corps Art Program, which began in 1942 during World War II to “keep Americans informed about what ‘their Marines’ were doing at home and overseas.”
Included in the Smithsonian exhibit are several works from the Vietnam War, such as a still life of a bullet-riddled helicopter pilot’s seat and a painting by LCPL James Butcher of a Marine sitting alone waiting for a flight at the air terminal at Phu Bai in 1967.
The entire Marine Corps art collection is made up of more than 8,000 works. It is housed at the National Museum of the Marine Corps in Quantico, Virginia, and worked with the Air and Space Museum to produce the exhibition.
“If you come here today looking for pretty airplane pictures, you are going to be hard pressed to find but a couple of those,” Lin Ezell, the director of the National Museum of the Marine Corps, told The Washington Post. “The show is a celebration not about the form of the aircraft itself, but the function of aircraft in war, and that always has to do with people.”
This exhibit will be on display for a year. For info on the museum’s hours of operation, go to Air and Space’s web site.
Posted on January 15th 2012 in Art, Art Exhibits, Museums
The latest special exhibit at the Southern Museum of Flight in Birmingham, Alabama, is The Vietnam War Helicopters Exhibit and Diorama, which opened on April 21. The Museum of Flight works to investigate, preserve, and promote southern aviation stories, through exhibits, displays, educational servies, and programming. Its other current exhibits include ones on Korean War jets and the Tuskegee Airmen.
This new Vietnam War exhibition features a AH-1 Cobra and an OH-6 Loach. It contains machine-gun sound effects, life-like mannequins and a realistic jungle setting, and depicts the what life was like for helicopter pilots and door gunners in C Troop of 16th Cavalry, the “Darkhorse” unit.
For more information abou the exhibit, call 205-833-8226
or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted on April 27th 2011 in Museums
The newest exhibit at the Petaluma Historical Museum in California, “The Vietnam Experience, A Soldier’s Story,” opened September 26 and will run through November 28th.
The exhibition includes Vietnam War artifacts, photographs, and documents interwoven with oral histories from from Vietnam veterans, including Bruce Thomson, Jerry Shimmel, Kate O’Hare-Palmer, and Ken Holybee, who are members of Vietnam Veterans of America’s Redwood Empire Chapter 223 in Santa Rosa, California.
The exhibit also includes videos created by Vietnam veterans, a Reflection wall, a speaker series, and documentary film “The Vietnam War,” which will air every Saturday at 1:30pm.
“Our goal,” the Museum says, “is to honor the men and women of both the United States and Vietnam who served their countries in a common cause, and to educate our community about the sacrifices that they made.”
Posted on September 29th 2010 in History, Museums
The artist Dinh Q. Lê was born in Vietnam at the height of the American war there, in 1968. He came to this country with his family ten years later; today he is an accomplished multi-media artist whose work often deals with the Vietnam War.
Lê’s “Projects 93: The Farmers and The Helicopters,” which he created in 2006, is now on view at New York City’s famed Museum of Modern Art through January 24. The work, which opened June 30, consists of an installation made up of a three-channel video projected along a corridor-like gallery, along with a helicopter that was hand-built from recycled scrap parts by Le Van Danh, a farmer, and Tran Quoc Hai, a self-taught mechanic.
The fifteen-minute video offers recollections of the American war by people in Vietnam, interspresed with clips from Hollywood films and documentary footage. The interviews feature those who lived through the war talking about the ubiquitous American helicopters, along with two younger men who discuss present-day choppers used for a far more peaceful purpose, in farming.
Posted on August 21st 2010 in Art, Art Exhibits, Museums
Last week the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund announced a national call for photographs of the more than 58,000 men and women whose names are on The Wall in Washington. The photos will be featured in a high-tech display in the proposed $85 million underground Education Center that is planned nearby.
In an event held at the Newseum in Washington, former Nebraska Sen. (and Vietnam veteran) Chuck Hagel and Peter Holt, the owner of the San Antonio Spurs (and a Vietnam veteran and the chair of the Campaign to Build the Education Center), joined VVMF head Jan Scruggs to kick off the endeavor, which has had a jump start with the thousands of photos that the the Fund has collected that appear on its “Virtual Wall” web site on the Internet.
“We’ve got 10,000 already,” Scruggs told The Washington Post. “By the time we get this built, we’ll have 80 to 85 percent of them. And then, within 10 days, we’ll have the rest.”
For info on how to submit a photo, go to the VVMF web page.
Posted on September 22nd 2009 in Memorials, Museums
John Brennan, who served as a Flight Operations Coordinator, with the 114th Aviation Helicopter Company in Vinh Long in 1970-71, is collecting names that in-country Army helicopter crews painted on their aircraft from 1961-73 for a book he is putting together.
“I have cataloged over 2,550 names to date,” Brennan told us. “I expect that number to exceed 3,000 when complete, and would very much like to include as many personalized copter names as possible. The second part of this book project is a photo collection of helicopter nose art that includes names, artwork, graffiti—everything and anything that was painted officially and unofficially on in-country Army copters.”
If you’d like to help, email the name info and/or scanned nose art pictures to email@example.com
Posted on July 23rd 2009 in Comments, Museums, Music
On Friday, May 22, the Writer’s Center in Bethesda, Maryland, will present a screening of the documentary, Muse of Fire, a film by Lawrence Bridges that looks at the National Endowment for the Arts’ Operation Homecoming project, which brings together some of the nations top writers (many of whom are Vietnam veterans) and aspiring young veteran writers. Jon Peede, NEA’s Director of Literature Grants Programs and a driving force behind Operation Homecoming, will introduce the film. He will lead a roundtable Q&A after the showing with the poet E. Ethelbert Miller, workshop instructor James Mathews, and one or two workshop participants. The Writer’s Center is located at 4508 Walsh Street in downtown Bethesda. The event is free and open to the public. To register, go to the center’s website. Muse of Fire includes readings and interviews with U.S. troops and their families, along with commentary from a slew of authors and actors who took part in the program. That includes Dana Gioia, Mark Bowden, Ray bradbury, Jeff Shaara, and Andrew Carroll. The original Operation Homecoming workshop participants included Vietnam veteran writers Tobias Wolff, Joe Haldeman, and Richard Currey.
The first and only museum dedicated to U.S. Army Infantrymen, aptly named the National Infantry Museum, is set to open in March on a 200-acre site adjacent to Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia. The museum will immerse visitors into the life of infantrymen in all of the nation’s wars. It will feature several themed galleries filled with artifacts and interactive exhibits, along with a 300-seat IMAX Theater.
For more info, go to www.nationalinfantrymuseum.com
For a video preview, go to http://www.nationalinfantryfoundation.org/home.shtml
Posted on January 7th 2009 in Museums
The latest artistic endeavor from Maya Lin, the landscape architect turned sculptor best known as the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial (The Wall), is “Systematic Landscapes,” an exhibit of new sculptures, drawings and installations. The show opened October 24 and runs until January 18 at the M.H. De Young Museum, in the Hagiwara Tea Garden in San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park.
“Systematic Landscapes” is a traveling exhibit that began at the Henry Art Gallery at the University of Washington in Seattle, and went to venues in San Diego and St. Louis. It is scheduled to go next to the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
Three large pieces, including “2 x 4 Landscape” (above), are in the show, and all of them allow visitors to interact with the art in different ways. You can walk underneath the hanging sculpture called “Water Line,” for example, and walk through “Blue Lake Pass,” which is made of particle-board and is based on the mountain range in Colorado where Lin maintains a second home.
What follows is a listing Lin’s career artistic achievements, from an article on the exhibit in the San Francisco Chronicle:
1982: Vietnam Veterans Memorial; Washington, D.C.
1988: The Peace Chapel; Juniata College, Pa.
1989: Civil Rights Memorial; Montgomery, Ala.
1993: The Women’s Table; Yale University, New Haven, Conn.
1995: The Wave Field; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Mich.
1999: Langston Hughes Library; Clinton, Tenn.
2000: Confluence Project; installations along the Columbia and Snake
rivers in Washington state
2000: Boundaries (Simon & Schuster)
2000: Time Table, Stanford University, Palo Alto
2003: Chosen as a member of the selection jury of the World Trade Center
Site Memorial Competition
2005: Elected to the American Academy of Arts & Letters
2005: Elected to the National Women’s Hall of Fame
Posted on November 3rd 2008 in Art Exhibits, Museums