Charlie Don’t Surf

Robert Duvall made the famous declaration “Charlie don’t surf” when he hit the beach with his Yater Spoon in the Vietnam war classic “Apocalypse Now”. Years later the TV series “China Beach” revived the myth of surfers who pioneered the waves of the Vietnam conflict. Pensacola’s Tom Hutson contributed the story of the real surfers behind the myth.

nam surf

R&R time at China Beach near Da Nang in Vietnam. This would have been approx. 1968. Pensacola Surfer Larry Martin ran the concession stand at China Beach. He set the guys up with boards that were sent over from Hawaii and the mainland. This beach was the inspiration for the China Beach TV series that featured Dana Delaney. Larry was a consultant for the series.

 

larry martin.china beach

 

Here’s another picture of the “China Beach Surf Club” (members only!) in Vietnam. I’m 99% sure the guy is Pensacola Surfer Larry Martin who ran the club. He was actually member #2 – he had a membership card. He would hitch hike through the jungle (in wartime!) and catch rides with US tanks to the beach. Larry said there were occasional bullets from Viet Cong that would fly by. Despite the sea snakes and the fact that he was in Vietnam during the war, he signed up for a second tour of duty because he enjoyed the surf so much. Larry still longboards Pensacola all the time.

Photos courtesy of Larry Martin

Comments

  • REF YOU POST ON FACE BOOK ABOUT SURFING AT CHINA BEACH, VIET NAM. I HAVE A COUPLE PHOTS OF SURFING IN VIET NAM , WASNT CHINA BEACH BUT A LITTLE SOUTH OF THERE. I AM A COCOA BEACH SURFER FROM 1964 ; WAS ON THE WEBER TEAM/ HOBIE TEAM & DESIGN ONE TEAM. PHOTOS ARE B & W FROM 1969/70
    BE HAPPY TO SEND THEM TO YOU
    DON DICKINSON

    DON DICKINSON4 July, 2016
  • Hello Don- We would love to have your photos! There isn’t much out there about surfing in Nam. Please contact me at eastcoastpaddleboard@yahoo.com or you can call me at 321-720-8033. Anything you have on Florida surfing history is also welcome. -Aloha, John Hughes, executive director

    John Hughes4 July, 2016

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