Thousands of books have been written about the Vietnam War, but none have told the story of the enlisted man on board navy destroyers off the coast of Vietnam. This is a story about a world that no longer exists, but in the memories of those WESTPAC sailors who served during those turbulent years.
Larsen reports aboard the navy destroyer USS Dermody as she prepares to embark on a WESTPAC during the dog days of the Vietnam War. On board ship, Larsen finds an exotic, disturbing world opening up before him. “Steve McQueen Would Be Proud” tells his story.
In this coming-of-age story, 19-year-old Larsen meets a cast of vital but flawed characters onboard ship and in the liberty ports of the Far East:
- Nettles, the born-again Christian who attempts to save Larsen’s soul, but loses his own.
- Sonny, the emotional leader of the ship’s blacks who shows Larsen the true face of racism.
- Goat, the anti-war hippie who tells Larsen the secrets of the revolution.
- Toolard, the petty tyrant who makes Larsen’s life miserable in the aft head.
- Juliet, the Chinese bargirl who steals Larsen’s heart – for a price.
- Fatty, the lifer whose beloved navy is dissolving around him. He takes Larsen under his wing and shows him how to drink, smoke, chase women and serve his only true love – the U.S. Navy.
Experience the sailor’s life on board ship through Larsen’s eyes: navy chow, seabats, VD lectures, mail call, inspections, sea details, the Shellback initiation, petty politics, racial friction, the mindless cleaning details, and the vital job of repairing radar equipment.
Experience the sailor’s life in the exotic ports of the Far East through Larsen’s adventures: losing his money and virginity in the Philippines, losing his heart to a beautiful bargirl in Taiwan, and nearly losing his life during a Hong Kong typhoon.
Larsen grows up during this seven-month WESTPAC cruise. When the ship enters Singapore, Larsen makes a decision that will change his life forever.