Leslie (Les) G. Bridges Sr. 84 of Montague Center, Massachusetts died on Monday, October 31, 2011 at Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield. He passed in comfort and with dignity with his wife and family at his side.
Mr. Bridges was born the son of Thelma R. (Miner) and Clarence J. Bridges on November 3, 1926 in Sunderland. He spent his younger years in East Colrain on the Green River. In 1930 his family moved to the Mt. Tom Junction of Easthampton. He was educated in Easthampton and graduated from Easthampton High School class of 1944. While at EHS he was a member of the Drama and Glee Clubs. Les was a member of the First Congregational Church Choir and the Hampshire Mens Choir in Northampton. As a teenager he worked for the Underwood Farm, mowed lawns and enjoyed hunting, fishing and kayaking on the Connecticut River.
Les was one of the greatest generation. He joined the U.S. Army in 1944 at age 17. He earned certification as a Sharp Shooter, Glider Pilot and Paratrooper at Ft. Benning, GA. Serving during World War II he saw action in the Philippines and served in Sapporo and Hokkaido, Japan. He was honorably discharged at the rank of Staff Sargent in 1946 and joined the Army Reserves. While on reserve time he attended Boston University and graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration in 1951. He was very active in the Air Force ROTC Riffle and Drill Teams, Chorus and Glee Clubs and the AKPsi Business Fraternity. For his time as a distinguished soldier and graduating from college he was commissioned at the rank of 2nd. Lieutenant in the United States Air Force.
2nd. Lt. Bridges reported for duty at McGuire AFB in N.J. in 1951. In July of 1952 he took his vows to Margaret (Peg) Dow of Cranston, R.I.. They have been happily married for 59 years. The Bridges were to be transferred to Tokyo during the Korean War. He worked in the USAF Far East Hqs. He traveled extensively to Korea, Japan, China, Hawaii, Philippines, Islands of Okinawa and Eniwetok. The Bridges family returned to Amherst for duty as a Professor of Air Science in the U-Mass. AFROTC Detachment. During this assignment Les earned his MBA. They were later transferred to Homestead AFB, Florida, where he worked with the Food Service and Commissaries. His unit won several award for best in 8th. AF and 2nd place in (SAC) Strategic Air Command world wide. The next assignment brought them to Morocco where his unit again won best commissary in the 16th. AF. They were transferred again to Saragosa, Spain where he was promoted to Major and with his promotion transferred to Cadiz, Spain as Commander of the U.S. Perishable Food Depot for Spain, Morocco and Portugal. Eventually they came home to Westover AFB. Chicopee, MA. as the Hqs. 8th. AF OIC of Support Services forthe14th. SAC Bases from Puerto Rico to New Foundland. His next assignment transferred him during the Vietnam War to Vietnam as General Westmorelands Staff Officer for Food Services Property Disposal and Aerial Resupply. He was awarded a Bronze Star and promoted to Lt. Colonel for work on the agreement with the Republic of Korea and actions during the Vietnamese Tet Offensive.
Lt. Col. Bridges was returned to Washington, DC., Hqs USAF. in a staff position responsible for Food Services and Commissaries. He retired in 1970 with 27 years fo distinguished service in seven countries. He received 21 medals and awards including the Bronze Star, Meritorious Service Medal. Campaign awards from the Philippines, Japan, Korea and Vietnam.
The Bridges returned to New England where he worked with various supermarkets, ITT Sheraton International Hotels, Ogden Food Service and Harvard University Purchasing and Material Management. They eventually settled in Montague Center in 1977. Les continued teaching at GCC and HCC. He earned a Real Estate Salesperson and Brokerage Licence and U.S. Coast Guards Captains Licence. Mr. Bridges and his wife owned and operated The Town Common Bed and Breakfast in Montague Center for several years. He found time to work at the U-Mass. Student Activities Department for eight years.
Les enjoyed photography, travel, music. Helping others was paramount. He was a man of faith and was devoted to his church. He held positions on various boards and worked on many church activities. Les was a wonderful loving, husband, father and grandfather. Family meant everything to him.
Mr. Bridges is survived by his wife Margaret (Peg) Bridges of Montague Center. His Children; Katheryn H. Bridges of Northfield, MA., Leslie G. Bridges Jr. Of Northfield, MA., William D. Bridges of Savannah, GA., David C. Bridges of San Diego, CA.. His grandchildren; Christina, Elijah, James, Derick, Alexander and Cintamani and Tulasi. His son Jeffrey W. Bridges passed earlier in 1997.
At Mr. Bridges request there are no calling hours. Private burial with full military honors took place on Saturday, November 5, 2011. A celebration of life service will be held at the Congregational Church of Montague Center at a time and date to be announced later. Donations maybe made in memory of Leslie G. Bridges Sr. to Hospice of Franklin County, 324 Conway St. Greenfield, MA. 01301. Services are under the direction of Cheshire Family Funeral Home, 46 South Winchester St. Swanzey, NH. 03446.