China Beach TV

by Richard Dieterle

In 1968, I think in April of that year, I took in-country R&R at China Beach, a place subsequently made famous by a television series of that name. This series was about nurses who worked out of Đà Nẵng. I don't know a lot about life as a nurse, but from what I've seen of the rest of the characters and situations, it is one of the most unrealistic shows ever to air on the subject of the war. The infantry, whether Marine or Army, are caricatures. They are so tough as to be absurd. The brothers are so cool that they wear sunglasses at night, a practice that I don't recommend to people who might want to see the enemy coming before it is too late. In one episode, a visitor from The World wants to seduce a nurse, so he drives her down an obscure dirt road after dark. She reacts to his unwanted attentions by running away into the jungle in the darkness. My experience suggests that the best way to guarantee the worst sort of unwanted attention is to drive out into the boonies alone at night. The absurdity of such a practice seems to have escaped the authors of this melodrama. The enemy operated at night, and had a single villager tipped them off that there was an American wandering around alone at night, unarmed, such an easy target would have filled whatever leisure time was allotted for entertainment.