China Beach (1989): S03E09 – How to Stay Alive in Vietnam, Part 01


China Beach is an American dramatic television series set at an evacuation hospital during the Vietnam War.

The title refers to My Khe beach in the city of Đà Nẵng, Vietnam, nicknamed “China Beach” in English by American and Australian soldiers during the Vietnam War. The ABC TV drama aired for four seasons, from 1988 to 1991.


Press photographer Cat Von Seeger (guest star Lisa Banes) draws the ire of McMurphy when she takes photos of the bloodshed at the hospital in China Beach. Beckett asks Dodger to join his patrol, as he is troubled by visions of the men in the morgue telling him he needs to experience combat to be worthy of serving in Graves Registration. Dodger turns him down. Von Seeger joins Dodger’s patrol, much to his chagrin, making quick friends with Hyers and radioman Jesus “Answer Man” Zappara (guest star Robert LaSardo). Beckett surprises Dodger at their rally point and he joins the patrol too. Dodger’s patrol catches up to a Viet Cong squad transporting a wounded prisoner. While surveilling the squad, the glare from Von Seeger’s camera gives away their position and Dodger’s patrol kills all but one of the VC soldiers, who manages to escape. The prisoner, Seak Yin (guest star Haing Ngor), tells Hyers he was seeking amnesty by defecting from the VC. Answer Man discovers the radio fried; unable to move Seak Yin with any efficiency, the patrol is forced to wait hours for its repair. Dodger reveals to Von Seeger that his tour has already ended, even as he continues to fight, and she urges him to leave Vietnam and go home. As the evac helicopter reaches their landing zone, the patrol is ambushed by VC. Beckett kills a VC soldier in hand-to-hand combat and Hyers is gravely wounded. He struggles to relay aid instructions to Von Seeger and Dodger before the helicopter returns. Rushed back to China Beach, Hyers is pronounced dead at the hospital. The episode is intercut with monologues by several characters: McMurphy on love, sex, and guilt; Holly on the unknowns of combat and The Lone Ranger; Dr. Richard on his children; Lila on optimism in war; K.C. on bad men; and in the longest, Sarge Pepper on his rules to stay alive, followed by a vivid recounting of an ambush where he had to kill another US soldier to save his platoon.

Part 02.

China Beach Series

You can find a full index and overview of China Beach here.

Production & Filming Details

  • Release Date: 29 November 1989.
  • Running Time: 46-47 minutes.
  • Rating: Unknown.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

Video Link

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