About the Book
In Striking Eight Bells, George Trowbridge recounts his journey from the Midwest to a warship in the Gulf of Tonkin during the closing months of the Vietnam War. Choosing to enlist in the Navy at 19, versus being drafted into the military, Trowbridge left a wife and newborn son in the States as he traversed the oceans of the globe to fight in America’s most unpopular war. George shares the details of the living conditions on board a naval destroyer during this era, what it was like going through training, the grind for his ship’s crew in supporting ground forces with naval gunfire, as well as the strike attacks his ship made on enemy coastal defenses, and finally coming home at the end of the war. This emotional story is not only historically focused, but it also is informative about life in the military, all filtered through the personal lens of a firsthand perspective.
Even though my husband is an AF Vietnam veteran. and a cousin’s husband is a Navy Vietnam veteran, I’d never read about the naval war against North Vietnam. George Trowbridge grew up on an Iowa farm and, although married and with a child, enlisted in the Navy rather than be drafted. He takes the reader through his training and explains fascinating navigation details.
You find out the unusual reason a ship would maneuver INTO a rain squall, why sailors voted for Nixon, what it was like to be underway on the open ocean during a typhoon. You learn what it’s like to endure day after day of combat, the team spirit and comradeship afterwards of the battle tested, and an unfortunate bar brawl on Christmas.
The title comes from a poignant tradition marking the end of war.
The USS Rich DD-820, a Gearing-class destroyer, was deployed just four months before entering Hong Kong, where the ship made a surprising deal with Hong Kong Mary Soo to paint the ship!
An important memoir about what it was like to be part of naval gun lines off North Vietnam, and to later be a Naval recruiter in Chicago during the regrettable years after the Vietnam War when it was dangerous to be seen in uniform.