Troops in Vietnam got to take a few days off from the war during their one-year tour of duty. They were allowed a week of R&R, rest and recuperation, outside of Vietnam. They could choose from a list of approved destinations that included Hawaii, Australia, Japan, Taiwan, the Philippines, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand. They were also eligible for shorter breaks, usually three days, inside Vietnam. Those in-country R&R days were available to unit commanders to distribute as they saw fit. The short vacations generally were granted as rewards for personal achievement, with an emphasis on enlisted men. There were two primary sites for in-country R&R: Vung Tau beach, about 60 miles southeast of Saigon, and China Beach, 8 miles north of Da Nang. Those two sites and a few others along the coast were places where you could go for lots of sand, surf and snapshots.

 

  • A unit party for the Army’s 9th Medical Laboratory is in full swing at an armed forces recreation center on the Saigon River in 1967. (John P. Heggers Collection)
  • Air Force Col. Lee Baker, stationed in Saigon 1963-1965, captured this beach scene in an undated photo at an unidentified location. (Lee Baker Collection)
  • A surfboard is returned to an Army jeep after its tour of duty at Vung Tau beach in 1967. (Anne N. Philiben Collection)
  • The 101st Airborne Division used Eagle Beach, 6 miles east of Hue in northern South Vietnam as an R&R center, shown in 1970. (Allen W. Sims Collection)
  • This beach bar at Vung Tau is a refreshing site for beachgoers. (Anthony LaRusso Collection)
  • Cam Ranh Bay, one of the largest seaports and supply storage centers built by the U.S. military in Vietnam, also afforded plenty of recreational activities, including water skiing. The port was about 200 miles north of Saigon. (Janet Olson Fortune Collection)
  • A scene on a postcard shows the beach at Nha Trang on the coast of central South Vietnam. Nha Trang was also the setting for a large U.S. Air Force base. (Sam Johnson Collection)
  • Philip Fontana, who served with the 97th Military Police Battalion at Cam Ranh Bay in 1970, learned to sail at nearby Tiger Lake. (Philip Fontana)
  • After passing a big inspection, the 97th Military Police Battalion celebrated with a beach barbecue. Staff Sgt. Harrison West toasts with a beer, while Spc. 4 Edward Parlier stands guard at the steaks. (Philip Fontana)
  • A woman on China Beach was spotted by U.S. Army Capt. Barry Brown in June 1968 while he was on a beer run to Da Nang. (Barry Brown Collection)