How I Celebrated July 4 in 1965

Bob Brewin served in the Marines in Vietnam.

Bob Brewin served in the Marines in Vietnam. Courtesy of Bob Brewin

Cold beer after hitting the beach in Da Nang.

It started on a downhill note, when I ran down the ramp of the LCVP landing craft carrying me and other members of the Communications Platoon, 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines, which hit a sandbar offshore Da Nang, Vietnam, and dropped us in waist-deep water.

After wading ashore, we hit the ground, looked up, saw a greeting party that consisted of mucho Marine and Vietnamese Army brass and a bunch of young women wearing the traditional áo dài dress and long pants, ready to hand out flowers to us.

I struggled to my feet (I was toting about 140 pounds of radio, spare batteries and personal gear) and eyeballed this scene in disbelief when famed AP photographer Horst Faas approached and intoned, “Relax kid, there is no war going on here; have a cold beer.”

We soon found out there indeed was a war going on in Vietnam, that cold beer was in real short supply -- and the beach scene was just the start of some truly dangerous and often bizarre adventures over the next year.