The Coronado Historical Association recently concluded its impactful exhibition, “Open Doors: Vietnam POWs – Fifty Years of Freedom,” with a heartfelt closing reception that brought the community together to reflect, celebrate, and express gratitude.
The event, held at the Coronado Historical Association, was a resounding success thanks to the support and attendance of community members who came together to honor the resilience and strength of Vietnam POWs. Attendees were treated to an evening filled with meaningful conversations, shared stories, and a profound sense of unity.
The exhibition itself, which ran for several months, served as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by those who endured captivity during the Vietnam War. It showcased personal artifacts, photographs, and firsthand accounts, offering visitors a unique glimpse into the experiences of the POWs and the challenging journey to freedom they undertook.
The highlight of the exhibit was 30 portraits and profiles of former-POWs that focused on their life after coming back home. The portraits and profiles were created by author Taylor Baldwin Kiland and photographer Jamie Howren. The closing reception began with Kiland and Howren unveiling a new profile and portrait of former-POW and Coronadan Paul Granger that was inducted into the Open Doors exhibit. The exhibit will next travel the nation making stops at different museums and cultural venues. The exhibit’s tour dates are yet to be announced, but will be shared by the Coronado Historical Association.
After the unveiling, documentary footage about Prisoners of War from different military conflicts was shown, developed by award-winning documentarians and veteran advocates CJ Machado and Bill Lowe.
Next was a panel discussion featuring former POWs Tom Speir Crosby, a WWII civilian child prisoner of war for 37 unforgettable months; Staff Sergeant Bob Chica, United States Marine Corps (Ret.),one of two U.S. Marines assigned to the USS Pueblo; and Senior Chief Earl Phares, United States Navy (Ret.), crewman assigned to the USS Pueblo. The men shared their insights and stories, deepening the audience’s understanding of these critical chapters in history.
CHA expresses its sincere gratitude to all attendees of the closing reception, recognizing that their presence and engagement played a pivotal role in the success of the event. The exhibition would not have had the same impact without the active participation of the community.
The closing reception for “Open Doors: Vietnam POWs – Fifty Years of Freedom” was a powerful reminder of the strength of community engagement and its role in preserving our shared history. It celebrated the past while looking ahead to a future filled with opportunities for continued learning and connection. CHA is already looking forward to welcoming community members to future events, as they continue their journey of exploration, education, and remembrance.