“China Beach: Surfers, the Vietnam War, and the Healing Power of Wave-riding” is a ground-breaking exhibit consisting of photos, first-hand accounts, surfboards, and memorabilia from those who were there. The story of the tales of scores of veterans who surfed in Vietnam during the war has never before been told.
This classic photo of the China Beach lifeguard station and Surf Club, circa 1967. The China Beach Surf Club was a place for rest and relaxation on the beach, a little touch of home that meant so much to so many servicemen and women during their tour in Vietnam. A full-size replica of this surf-style beach shack is a focal point of the exhibit.
One of many stories shared for this exhibit comes from James Weander, the young soldier in black trunks in the center of the photo and a California surfer who now lives in Hawaii. “When I returned from duty in Vietnam, I spent three months in total agony, suffering from jungle rot on my hands and feet. The doctors never seemed to be able to get a handle on the correct treatment, so I insisted on going surfing and getting back in the water. Once I hit the waves again, my skin condition cleared up in two weeks.”