WWII veteran talks about experiences

Published 8:34 am Saturday, June 18, 2011

At age 91, Alvin Bridges of Clanton has had his share of unique experiences — he has seen two Tuesdays in one week, has witnessed a rainbow at midnight, and has visited five countries and nine islands.

One might argue that these events are overshadowed by Bridges’ service in World War II. But perhaps it’s the fleeting, unexpected moments produced by this experience that best define his life.

Bridges recalled the eerie feeling of crossing the International Dateline on a ship during his Army days in the war:

“I went to bed Tuesday night, and the next morning when I got up it was still Tuesday,” he said.

Bridges in his military uniform

Bridges served in the Delaware National Guard and was part of an anti-aircraft battalion. He has visited Mexico, Canada, Honduras, Panama, Belize and nine islands, among them Bora Bora and Tahiti.

“The most beautiful place I have ever been is Bora Bora,” he said without hesitation. “The most beautiful sight I have ever seen is a rainbow at midnight.”

One night on the island, Bridges was on guard when — out of the mist and in the light of a full moon — he saw it.

“It just lit up the sky,” he said.”

Bridges has also dined in some pretty extraordinary places, such as the battleship USS Missouri, on which the peace treaty between the United States and Japan was signed.

He also shared that once, in 1945, he drove from Clanton to San Diego, Calif., and spent only $35 on gasoline. In San Diego he was stationed at Fort Rosecrans for about one year.
Bridges outlived two wives, Mildred Easterling and Faye Wilder, both of whom lost the battle to cancer. He has two children (one living) and five grandchildren.

For all he has seen and done, Bridges is thankful to God and the people that influenced his life. He mentioned his parents, Thomas L. and Ola B. Bridges; his former school principal, James P. Floyd of Weogufka; and former employer, Mike Kelley.

“I am thankful to my parents for raising me the way they did, and to the Lord for [keeping me] under his unchanging hand, or I would never have been able to do the things I did or see the things I saw,” Bridges said.

Read more in his book, “A Hatchet Runs Through It: The Life of Alvin Bridges.”

Bridges in a more recent picture