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.


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