The Naples Airport is home to the Naples Military Museum — two rooms packed with displays of miniature replicas of war planes, battleships (such as the USS Arizona), military uniforms, medals, photographs, handwritten notes, and war memorabilia donated by family members. The museum is staffed with knowledgeable volunteers and former military veterans.
The display of “The Missing Man’s Table” catches your attention as you enter the small museum. The tradition of the empty Missing Man’s Table table started at the end of the Vietnam War, and includes the reading of a poem, which is filled with symbolism.
What is POW/MIA?
POW/MIA is an acronym for “Prisoners of War/Missing in Action.” During the Vietnam War (November 1, 1965 to April 30, 1975) POW/MIA referred to those reported missing in action or held prisoners of war. After the Paris Peace Accords of 1973, hundreds of POWs were returned home to the U.S. Many are still “missing in action,” and their remains never recovered.
As of August 29, 2018, there are still 1,594 Americans missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War according to the National League of POW/MIA Families, a nonprofit group of activists and families affected by the POW/MIA issue.
The POW/MIA flag is black with an emblem designed by Newton F. Heisley, featuring a white disk bearing a black silhouette of a man’s head (Jeffrey Heisley), a watchtower with a guard on patrol, and a strand of barbed wire. Above the disk are the white letters POW and MIA, framing a white five-pointed star; below the disk is a black and white wreath above the motto: “You Are Not Forgotten.”
In 1990, Congress passed U.S. Public Law 101-355, designating the POW/MIA flag as “the symbol of our Nation’s concern and commitment to resolving as fully as possible the fates of American still prisoner, missing and unaccounted for in Southeast Asia, thus ending the uncertainty for their families.”
In Florida, the POW/MIA flag is flown at the Florida Capitol, rest areas along interstate highways, and at state parks year-round.
The Naples Military Museum at 500 Terminal Drive, Naples Airport is open Monday through Saturday from 10 AM to 4 PM; Sunday from noon to 4 PM.