My wonderful husband went out and bought me a cool machine the other day and now for the past couple days I have been dubbing China Beach episodes from VCR tapes onto DVDs. It's not been easy...going through the tapes (over and over) to try to dub them in order. Some episodes are pretty messed up, but there is enough there to get the story and/or the gist of it. It's been nice to watch them again - it's been years and years since the last time.
Watching China Beach again brings back memories I had of the time when I first watched it. I was still in High School when it first came out (1988) and I can remember wanting to be McMurphy. I can remember wanting the camaraderie, the friendships that seemed to be forming before my eyes as I watched. I can remember wondering why my father, who went through the same things, didn't seem to have any friends from those days - but that's something to explore on another day.
By the time the third season started, in the fall of 1989, I was a senior and already thinking about the career and friends I would have following the Air Force Academy. I watched China Beach and dreamed about serving my country and making a difference in the world. Then in 1992, I had medical leave from USAFA and stayed with my father in MA for a year. China Beach was in re-runs on Lifetime. Again, I spent time watching China Beach and dreaming of returning the Air Force Academy and the career and friends I would have after graduation.
Fast forward to 1998 and I am getting ready for my first deployment. I was heading out to the United Arab Emirates for 60 days, only 60 days - I wanted to stay longer and I wasn't even there yet. Finally, I was getting to go somewhere and do something. I was going to make a difference. I was going to have new experiences and meet new people - people that would share these experiences and become lifelong friends.
Some of those things I dreamt of actually happened, some didn't. All I can say in the end is that China Beach had a lasting impact. I have never forgotten it, and imagine it is something I will continue to think of, and watch, long into the future...I just wish they would come out with the series on DVD (I am missing one episode from both season three and season four).
During my first deployment, I wrote the following:
Dog tags chanting in the wind –
M-60s pointing at the wire
Tents placed in rows –
uniforms and civies hung side by side
Favorite shows watched again and again –
painting a picture of endless possibilities
M*A*S*H and China Beach –
someone else’s ideas; a dream made real
Doing something important –
something to be proud of
Set apart from others –
by location and sense of duty
A wish to serve –
to go where others won’t
Sunsets over sand dunes –
foreign tongues and customs
The sense of déjà vu –
finally coming home . . .
2 hours ago