After a 41-year naval career launched by the bombing at Pearl Harbor, Herb Bridge retired with the rank of rear admiral, the highest rank possible for a reserve officer. On Nov. 10, 71 years after he first put on a uniform, Bridge stood onstage at the Washington–Utah football game as a guest of University of Washington president Michael Young, to receive the first UW Alumni Association’s Distinguished Alumni Veteran Award.
“I had to get out and get this honor in front of 70,000 of my closest friends,” Bridge said. “It was fun.”
Two days later, on Veteran’s Day, Bridge attended a ceremony that marked his service in the Pacific during World War II, in Korea, and in the Naval Reserve. Young spoke at the ceremony, as did Bob Stacey, interim dean of the UW’s College of Arts and Sciences. Stacey’s son Will, a marine stationed in Afghanistan, was killed by an improvised explosive device in January.
Bridge has long been active in Seattle’s civic and Jewish community, from expanding his father’s jewelry business, Ben Bridge Jeweler, to one of the country’s largest chains of jewelry stores (with his brother Bob as partner) to his support of local agencies such as Hillel at the UW, the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, and the United Way.
Bridge’s naval career was also a family affair. His father Ben served in the Navy, as did his son Jon, who had nine years of active duty and 26 years in the Naval Reserve.
In addition to graduating from the UW in 1947, Bridge attended the Naval War College and served on the staff of Adm. John McCain, Jr., father of Sen. John McCain of Arizona. He also spent several months commanding a fleet in the Indian Ocean near Oman.
Even weeks after his honors, Bridge is still excited about his experience.
“It’s very nice to be the initial recipient of something like that,” he said.