The vietnam war took a profound toll on the U.S., both in terms of lives and societal turmoil: Approximately 2.7 million Americans served in the war, and over 58,000 died—mostly in their late teens and early 20s. A handful of soldiers somehow found a way to surf in Vietnam—some at China Beach, just east of Da Nang, others at their own smaller outposts. Brief moments on the water became a way to leave the battlefield behind, regain some of the joys of home and enter a realm that was, and still is, more serene.
This Memorial Day (May 29, 2017), Oceanside’s California Surf Museum will open an exhibition dedicated to these very soldiers, the men who rode waves away from the front line, and used surfing to escape the horrors of combat. The exhibit will include a reconstruction of the China Beach Surf Club, personal photographs. and stories of local Californian surfers who served and surfed in Vietnam.