The Blue Moon Bar was located in downtown DaNang, a few blocks from the USO club. It was a small building, very dark on the inside, with only daylight from one big window for lighting.
This bar reminded
me of the bars in Okinawa outside Camp Hanson in Kim Village. You
the Bar Girls drank tea to stay sober, and we paid through the nose for
their tea, just to get them to sit with us and maybe dance a couple of
If they wanted a drink and you wouldnít buy them one, they would move on to a new benefactor. We paid a dollar for their drinks and they would get 10 cents at the end of their shift, so they drank a lot of tea and very quickly.
These kind of
bars were not whore houses, anyone looking for sex or anything other
than casual contact, were just spinning their wheels, sex was not an
option. So we drank, got drunk and toyed with the girls. All in all, it
was a positive experience for everyone involved.
The Blue Moon Bar
in DaNang was one of these bars. On September 21st
1965, G/2/9 was pulled from the field and sent back to DaNang Air
Base for some R&R, and as always, it was working R&R.
We were assigned to the Air Base for a week of guard duty, manning these large bunkers on the base perimeter. Each platoon was also scheduled for two alternating days of
liberty in DaNang.
My platoon pulled Liberty on the 2nd day and Bob Lamkee and I went to the USO club and had a Steak Dinner, or should I say lunch. After lunch we went looking for a bar, one of those bars, we wanted female contact, and it wasnít long before we found one.
We were on a
daylight pass, which meant that we had to be back on base before sun down.
It was probably 13:00 (1pm) when we entered the Blue Moon Bar. It was
near sundown when we left, and they had to drag me out, dump us into
rickshaws and head us towards base.
I didnít want to leave, seems that I had fallen in love with this pretty little,
round eyed, half French, Vietnamese bar girl (I know, none of you ever fell in love with a bar Girl right) so I guess I was still a little green!
It was every good Sergeants duty to educate their younger, newer troops, and my Sergeant did his best to bring us new guys up to speed in Okinawa, and I did good in Oki, never fell in love one time. Fell in lust once or twice, but nothing I couldnít get over by morning.
Well, this little
gal at the Blue Moon Bar had really gotten to me. I guess it was the
war, life and living was the primary concern and she just got to me.
The next day I
was a lost soul, all I could think about was this gal. I was counting the hours till my next liberty, which wasn't for another 3 days.
The next day I
was no better, had a bad case of puppy love and I wanted to see her
again in the worst way, but there was a snafu, we were told that we were going back into the
field the next day and I panicked, No More Liberty, what was I going to
Well, there was only
one thing to do, figure out a way to get off base immediately. Now I'm a man with a mission. We were sharing
our Bunker with two S. Vietnamese soldiers and one of them had a
motorcycle. He would stand his watch at night and go home in the morning.
So my plan quickly took form. I would hitch a ride off base with this Vietnamese soldier on
his motor cycle, which after a lengthily discussion with my A Gunner, is
exactly what I did, I went AWOL in DaNang.
This Vietnamese soldier was a nice kid, about my age (19) and he knew about as much English as I knew Vietnamese.
Itís interesting, we spent most of the day together and had a blast, but there were less than 5 words that either of us could say to the other with understanding.
He took me to one of his bars in an off limits area in DaNang and we had a couple of beers before the MPís came and we had to leave because Americans were not suppose to be there.
Next it was my turn and I directed him right to the Blue Moon
As soon as we got in front of the Blue Moon Bar my new drinking buddy got a little tense. He didnít want to go in and kept saying VC, Number 10, VC. (No 10 is very bad)
Well, I wasnít going to loose my ride and I had to see this girl, so I convinced him that this place was ok and we finally went in.
This would be
around noon, and we had a real good time, we were the only customers, and
all the girls, well three of them, (this was a small place),
concentrated on us. We drank and laughed more in that afternoon than I
had my entire 3 months in Vietnam, These girls spoke reasonable
English so we had very little problem communicating.
Around 4pm my new drinking buddy had to leave but the girls wanted me to stay and have more fun so I obliged. Nearing sun down I got nervous, I became disorientated and wasnít sure how to get back to the base, but my little Vietnamese beauty agreed to escort me back via rickshaw.
So off we went,
and the whole way back, she was begging me to go home with her. I mean
begging me, pleading with me. Short of actual intercourse, it was the
best back seat action I have ever experienced.
Fortunately for me, I wasnít drunk enough, I wanted to go home with her, but there is something to be said about Duty. I had to get back to my post for night watch and that was that!
I managed to get back without anyone knowing that I was gone, except of course my A Gunner, who was kind enough to stand the first watch. The next day we went back into the field and I really didnít give my encounter much more thought.
The December 66
issue of Leatherneck magazine did a feature article on the Blue Moon
Bar. It seems that the Blue Moon bar was placed off limits in early
October 65 because it was found out to be a front for the VC. My
Vietnamese drinking buddy was right all along. The Blue Moon Bar really was No 10.
this article, I began to remember some of the questions that these girls
were asking me. They wanted to know my unit name, location and what my job was.
There were many
questions but I never gave any correct answers. I told them that I was a
platoon commander with J Company 3rd Marines, and there is no J Company designation in the Marines.
My last encounter
with the Blue Moon Bar was on September 25th 1965, just (3)
days before PFC Robert Garwood was captured after going off base to get laid
outside of DaNang.
When I read Garwoodís story, the hair on the back of my neck stood at attention.
It is clear that Garwood was the first Marine POW, and that the VC were looking to capture a Grunt. What isnít so clear is how close I actually came to being the first Marine POW.
Read Garwood's Story
By; Bob Neener
- Golf Company 2nd
Battalion 9th Marine Regiment 3rd Marine Division