Herb M. Bridge: A Call to Duty

Herb M. Bridge, ’47, U.S. Navy Rear Admiral retired, is the first recipient of the UW’s newly established Distinguished Alumni Veteran Award.

In addition to his naval service, public service and philanthropy are at the core of Bridge’s life. He founded the Seattle Housing Resources Group that builds low-cost housing, and has served on many boards including the Naval Academy Foundation and the USO Puget Sound Area. He and his son Jon are former co-chairs of the United Way campaign of King County.

A true patriot
For Bridge, the bombing of Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941 launched 43 years of dedicated service in the U.S. Navy, active duty in two wars and decades as an officer in the Navy Reserve.

Bridge joined the Navy at 17 and saw action in the Pacific Theatre during World War II and also during the Korean conflict. Of his early days in the Navy Bridge says, “I found that some of my lofty expectations of winning the war single-handedly were disappointed.” Bridge may be self-deprecating, but he received two Legion of Merit awards and the Naval Unit Commendation.

In his book Building Bridges, Bridge said, “I liked pretty much everything about the Navy, from the uniforms to working with like-minded people for a higher cause. The ultimate draw, though, was my sense of patriotism.”

A family tradition
The Navy tradition among the Bridge family is just about as strong as the UW tradition. It started with Herbert’s father, Ben Bridge, who served as a Chief during World War I. It continued with Herb, his brother Bob, ’52, who was a Navy Commander, and Herb’s son, Jon, ’72, ’76, a Navy captain with nine years of active duty and 26 years in the Reserve.

Ben Bridge taught Herb how to tie knots and how to signal flags. On fishing trips the pair practiced the Morse Code in their hip waders. By the time he joined the Navy, he already had many of the skills that were taught in boot camp.

During World War II, Bridge served in the Pacific on a destroyer escort. Immediately after the war he joined the U.S. Navy Reserve and was called up during the Korean War. He served as close air support directing planes to support the combat troops fighting on the ground.

Passing on the knowledge
He continued in the Navy Reserve teaching what he had learned. “When I left active duty in Korea I liked it so much that, instead of being bitter about losing time from the business, I got active in teaching Naval Reserves about how to use close air support,” he says. He would train new pilots by taking them into the desert and having them practice bombing old trucks and tanks to get adequate practice.

In addition, Bridge also attended the Naval War College, served on Admiral John McCain, Jr.’s staff (father of Sen. John McCain of Ariz.) and commanded a fleet in the Indian Ocean for several months in an operation off the shores of Oman.

In 1985, He became a Rear Admiral (two star), the highest rank a person can achieve in the Navy Reserve.

4 Responses to Herb M. Bridge: A Call to Duty

  1. Bob Minnott says:

    Admiral Bridges record of service is reflective of his generation. That heritage is now being lost because the nation as a whole has not gone to war in over 50 years.

    Admiral Bridges experience must be preserved for generations to come, so that the current generational gap does not continue to widen.

    Thank you, Admiral

    Bob M… “Tet” – ’68

  2. Daniel Jones says:

    I have always admired those who chose to serve our country through military service. I was not medically qualified to do so, but my family members have served in the the US Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines.

    I recently discovered that Admiral Bridge maintained a residence on Whidbey Island near where I live. After researching Admiral Bridge’s service, patriotism, and philanthropic activities, I was impressed. His contributions do indeed deserve to be preserved and his name honored for his unselfish contributions to our nation and his community during his life.

    At a monthly meeting of our board of directors, I proposed that the Admiral’s Cove Beach Club name one of the unnamed, club-owned features in our community in his honor. These features include our water recreational facility/pool; a small, man-made lake; and our clubhouse.

    Our roads have been named for famous Admirals like Farragut, Leahy, Nimitz, Dewey, Kinkaid, and Rickover. Our playground was named in honor of Rear Admiral Grace Hopper. I believe that the qualities of bravery, loyalty, and honor that Admiral Bridge has exibited during his career deserve to be recognized in a similar manner.

    Daniel Jones,
    Vice-President Admiral’s Cove Beach Club, Whidbey Island, WA

    • Shanda Taylor-Boyd says:

      @ Daniel Jones, Sir, I couldn’t agree with you more!

      Shanda Taylor-Boyd
      United States Army, Retired
      UW Sch of Nursing ’94
      DAV Lifetime Member
      UW Alumni Assoc. Lifetime Member

      P.S. Thanks for YOUR CIVILIAN SERVICE & YOUR FAMILY MEMBERS’ SERVICE TO OUT U.S. MILITARY!

  3. Vern Smith says:

    We have another alumni from the Uof W Admiral Horton Smith ,his family gave the dexter horton block to Bagley to start the U of W and he has been in 5 wars as a submarine 2 star admiral ,u of w law graduate u of w rotc ,eagle scout quartermaster scout, Yes he is a direct desendent of some of the most important men in US history. Direct to Dexter Horton and John Knox Witherspoon. On the superior court as a judge for 22 years you either went to jail or off to marine boot camp. As juvinel court commisioner it was detension or scouting with weekly reports to his court. There alot more Vernon Horton Smith son he is my hero. He has been the Chairman of Washeli Vetrans day for over 35 years. His dad holds the crios de graph from france and his cousin holds the congressional medal of honor willie horton all burried at washelli. lets look into him for an award Herb Bridge was my fathers ex o Herb reported to him for many years as
    lake union is where his 2 star flag flew for decades. Where the museum is now it was both there headquarters. My dad is still living and should be awarded.and document for all h/is service to the comunity. Thats all he has done is serve. vern please call206-718-8376

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