top of page
  • Admin

Korean War Vet Makes a Difference

On the wall of Bill Bridge’s home were two small frames displaying the medals he

earned for his service during the Korean War. “I’m proud of those,” Bill stated as we

concluded our interview. Bill’s displays contain the Bronze Star, Purple Heart, Korean

Service, United Nations Service, Good Conduct, and Combat Infantry Badge for his

nearly two years of service during the Korean War. He also had a photograph taken of

him overlooking a river in North Korea. Just on the other side of the river was China

and a buildup of thousands of Chinese soldiers waiting to overrun the Army’s 31 st

Infantry. The odds were not in the American’s favor.

William L. Bridge was born on November 1, 1930 in Vernon, Texas to Louis Simpson

(L.S.) and Jesse Bridge. Bill was the youngest of 3 children with 2 sisters preceding

him. The family moved to Lubbock when Bill was only 6 months old. His father worked

as a salesman for Scoggin-Dickey, a long-time car dealer in Lubbock. During the war,

domestic car production ceased and Bill’s dad worked at Reese Airfield for 5 years. Bill

attended Lubbock High where he excelled in football, basketball and baseball. Texas

Tech offered Bill a football scholarship to play middle linebacker in 1950. The Tech

yearbook noted that the freshman team was “classed by some as one of the best

freshman teams in Tech's history.” Bill said, “All I wanted to do was play football.”

However, the Korean War interrupted Bridge’s football days. He noted that “nearly the

whole team was drafted in 1951.”

Drafted into the Army in October 1951 and now married, Bill took his basic training in Ft.

Sill and was transferred to Ft. Ord in California for what he called “mountain training.”

Bill said, “The first of my two sons was born when I was in Korea.” Bill noted that

“Korea was very mountainous, and the Army knew we needed that kind of training.”

After stopovers in Hawaii and Wake Island, his unit landed in Seoul. After a convoy to

Inchon, the unit sailed by boat to Pusan and headed north as part of the 31st Infantry

Regiment, 7th Infantry Division. The regiment made their way north of the 38th parallel

where they waited for orders. We waited there for 3-4 weeks while President Truman

made up his mind whether we should attack or not. Bridge recalled when the Chinese

attacked: “They started blowing whistles and bugles and making all kinds of noise. We

were outnumbered at least 10 to 1. I was carrying a BAR (Browning automatic rifle) at

the time and I just started firing at all of these Chinese and watched them fall. I could

see they were all very young. I regret killing so many young men. That bothers me to

this day. I fired so many rounds that the barrel of my BAR was glowing red hot and I

had to change out the barrel a couple of times. Outnumbered, we had to fall back to the

38 th parallel.”

On October 14, 1952, Bill’s unit was part of the Triangle Hill attack, also known as

Operation Showdown. The objective was to capture a row of hills occupied by the

Chinese and North Koreans just north of the 38th parallel. Bill’s Company B was to take

one of the so-called Jane Russell hills. He noted that “out of 140 men that went up the

hill, only 14 or so of us made it to the top. I had six hand grenades and threw them in 3

bunkers to stop the Chinese from firing down on us. That’s when I was hit. I fell back

down the hill and was only stopped by the bodies that littered the hill. Blood was

gushing from my leg and my training kicked in and I quickly took off my belt and made a

tourniquet. A medic came by and said I did a good job and he put on a proper

tourniquet. I was taken to the Battalion Aid Station and then by helicopter to Seoul. I

was later moved to a hospital in Tokyo, Japan where I stayed for 5 months. It was there

that I was awarded the Purple Heart and a Bronze Star for my actions on Jane Russell

Hill. If you were able to walk, you were sent back to Korea. I helped move wounded

guys around the hospital. Some had limbs completely shot off. One of the doctors said

‘Bridge get lost.’ That kept me from having to go back to Korea as I only had about 4

months left in the Army. I flew back to Ft. Ord and then to Ft. Sill where I was

discharged on July 14, 1953 at the rank of Sergeant.”

Back in Texas, I was offered a scholarship to Texas A&M and went there for 2

semesters. Later, I received a scholarship to the University of Texas and went there for

2 semesters. I went to work at a car dealer in Morton, Texas and worked there for 7

years. During this time, I went to General Motors mechanics school in Greeley,

Colorado. The government paid for everything. I opened up my own repair shop in

Seminole, Texas and was there about 7 years when a man named Bill Gordon from

Andrews stopped by my shop and said he was going to start up 13 vocational programs

at Andrews High School and he wanted me to teach auto mechanics. Mr. Gordon

budgeted $34,000 so I could set up my own vocational classes. I used the money to set

up a shop and to buy tools and equipment. I sold my business in 3 months and started

teaching. I had around 80 students and many of them won state awards over the years

and I am very proud of that. I taught there for 21 years.” Many of Bill’s students went

on to have successful careers and still remember him to this day.”

“We moved to Ruidoso, New Mexico and I worked as a Forest Ranger for 6 or 7 years.

I also worked at Ruidoso Downs as security for 24 years and was a substitute teacher

at Ruidoso High School. My wife Grace Ann and I met Joe and Kay Robbins in 1965

when we were in Andrews. Joe died in 2001 and my wife died in 2002. I went to visit

Kay in Andrews and said we’re both alone so we might as well get together.” Kay

responded, “Are you proposing?” Bill responded by saying “I guess I am!” They were

married in 2006. They just moved to Lubbock in August 2018 and now live in one of the

cottages at the Carillon. When asked what he would like to be remembered for, Bill

thought a while and said, “My work with young people and making a difference in their

lives.” Whether it was on the football field, the battlefield or in the classroom, Bill Bridge

has made a difference in many people’s lives.

Submitted by Larry A. Williams

Veterans Liaison Co-Chair

Texas South Plains Honor Flight

24 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page