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Naples vet, military museum telling story of Vietnam POW poetry

Documentary shows poetry of POWs at Hanoi Hilton
Posted at 8:49 PM, Dec 14, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-14 20:49:36-05

NAPLES, Fla. — A local veteran is working with the Naples military museum to tell a unique story about the Vietnam War.

The Naples Museum of Military History, tucked into a corner of the Naples Airport, has thousands of artifacts from every war America has fought. One of those artifacts is “Voices From The Dark," a book of poems written by Vietnam prisoners of war.

Naples resident Joel Banow is using his skills as a retired TV director and producer to bring the book to life.

“Once I started to read it, I saw all these wonderful and horrific poems in that book,” Banow said. “That book represents the POWs who were shot down over North Vietnam.”

An army veteran who served in Korea, Banow is working on a half-hour documentary called “Voices From The Dark”. The film will have veterans reading the POW poems paired with footage from the Vietnam Warm.

“People need to know what some of these guys did over there when they were POWs,” Banow said. “I want (viewers) to get a feel for poetry through these guys.”

Money for the book is being raised through the Naples Military History Museum, which is nonprofit organization.

Banow has started a GoFundMe page and hopes to raise $35,000 to make the film.

George Gulley is a retired Air Force veteran and a docent at the museum. He said the “Voices From The Dark” is a wonderful way to hear veterans’ experiences firsthand.

“People come (to the museum) and say, ‘I wish I talked more to my grandfather,’” Gulley said. “That’s what that book is all about — your grandfather telling you what happened.”

The Naples Museum of Military History averages only about 15 visitors a day according to museum attendance records. Even though many might not know about the museum, Gulley said they should.

“Now so many people know nothing about the military, especially our history,” he said. “The future is a mystery without history, and that’s why we’re here.”