The Vietnam War lasted almost 20 years. It was the first war the U.S. had lost. However, the return home of the Prisoners-of-War was widely celebrated. They were held captive for almost nine years, the longest of any American war. Those pilots who survived shootdown were held in secluded prisons, hidden from the outside world except for occasional propaganda films.
In 1992 I received permission from the Vietnam government to return to Hanoi and the prison camps with a group of POWs and family members. Here they told their story inside the cells and camps where they were held. This was the only time such permission was ever given.
Over 60 hours of footage was shot in Hanoi and the camps. That footage was made into a powerful 56-minute program, “Beyond Courage – Surviving Vietnam as a POW” (1999).
What others say about the 1999 documentary film
BEYOND COURAGE – Surviving Vietnam as a P.O.W.
General Colin L. Powell, U.S. Secretary of State(deceased):
“Beyond Courage is the gripping story of the power of the human spirit to endure and triumph. We owe these heroes so much. They stood for the principles which make this Nation great. Every American should watch this and be thankful and proud.”
John McCain, United States Senator (deceased), Vietnam prisoner-of-war: “Beyond Courage – Surviving Vietnam as a P.O.W. — is unquestionably one of the most realistic portrayals to date of the struggles we endured as prisoners of the North Vietnamese over 30 years ago. Watching it took me back to a time when men like Orson Swindle, Ev Alvarez, Bill Lawrence, Fred Cherry, Jerry Denton, Jack Bomar, Robbie Risner, Ben Purcell, Jerry Coffee and Medal of Honor recipients Leo Thorsness, Jim Stockdale, and Bud Day showed the heights to which man can rise while immersed in the depths of horror. These men are among this nation’s quiet heroes and I am eternally honored to be in their company.”
John F. Kerry, U.S. Senator (rit), Vietnam veteran: “Beyond Courage is an extraordinary story about the resilience and strength of the human spirit. The men in this documentary embody the most admirable qualities of our own humanity, not just in their capability to endure tremendous suffering and go on with their lives, but in their willingness to return to Vietnam and face their fears again, to revisit the scenes of a trauma most would spend a lifetime trying to forget, and to relate to us some sense of how they not just persevered, but transcended their struggles.”
Stephen Ambrose, historian (deceased) author of “D-Day” and “Band of Brothers”:
“I’ve just watched Beyond Courage and after drying my eyes and collecting my emotions I want to tell you how moving, revealing, informative and superb it is. The POWs make me proud to be an American. I’m glad they were on our side.”
Jan Scruggs, President, Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund:
“Beyond Courage is not just another documentary about war. The film shows the great strength of the human spirit exemplified by America’s POWs in Hanoi. The program is magnificent.”
George Stevens Jr., Founder of the American Film Institute and Kennedy Center Honors Producer: “Will Furman’s documentary is a stirring reminder of sacrifice made by Americans far from home.”
Winner of First Place – Documentary, 1999 Los Angeles International Short Film Festival
Winner – CINE Golden Eagle 2000