Stunning images from war-torn South Vietnam in 1968 bring to life those who lived it in a new Florida Keys exhibit.
"Innocent Souls: Vietnam 1968" opens June 3 at the Gato Building, 1100 Simonton St. in Key West, with a reception from 5 to 7 p.m. The photos go with an accompanying exhibit, "Yesterday's Kids: Reflections," a new series of contemporary portraits of people who served and those who protested. It includes first-person commentary about what they did and their reflections today.
All the photos were shot by Key Largo resident Glenn Hoover, who was a first lieutenant in the U.S. Army serving in Vietnam. The "Innocent Souls" photographs captured in 1968 during the peak of the Vietnam War give a glimpse into life as a soldier on duty. After sitting as slides in Hoover's closet for more than 43 years, the images have taken on a new life enlarged and printed on canvas.
Hoover arrived in Vietnam in January 1968 through a series of voluntary choices, based on beliefs of service to his country instilled in him by his father. Hoover, an Army ROTC graduate of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y., received a Silver Star, Bronze Star V Device, Army Commendation Medal and Combat Infantryman's Badge.
He worked years in the hospitality industry and now owns Glenn Hoover Real Estate.
The intent of the exhibit is not to pass any moral judgments about the war; rather, it's a series of snapshots taken during a brief moment by one person.
The exhibit is dedicated to Marine Corps Capt. Jerry Zimmer, Hoover's high school classmate and football teammate. An F4 Phantom jet pilot, he was shot down while on a mission on Aug. 29, 1969, in the mountainous Central Highlands of South Vietnam. He's classified as missing in action.
The exhibit is part of the Florida Keys Council of the Arts' Art in Public Buildings program (the Gato building is a county and state government building).
The exhibit is on display through September. The Gato Building is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays except holidays. For more information on the exhibit, visit www.InnocentSoulsVietnam.org.