Gary Bridges was born on November 13, 1943, in Macon, Georgia. He enlisted in the U.S. Air Force on June 29, 1962, and after completing basic training at Lackland AFB, Texas, in August 1962, he attended Radio Equipment Repairman Training at Keesler AFB, Mississippi, from August 1962 to June 1963. His first assignment was as a Ground Radio Maintenance Specialist with the 2140th Communications Squadron in Athens and then Tanagra, Greece, from June 1963 to December 1964, followed by service as a Ground Electronic Intelligence Specialist with the 544th Aerospace Reconnaissance Technical Wing at Offutt AFB, Nebraska, from December 1964 to September 1965. Sgt Bridges served as an EC-135 Airborne Radio Operator with the 3902nd Operations Squadron at Offutt AFB from September 1965 to May 1967, and then as a C-130 Hercules and MC-130E Combat Talon I Airborne Radio Operator with the 15th Air Commando Squadron at Nha Trang AB, South Vietnam, from May 1967 to April 1968. His next assignment was as an MC-130E Airborne Radio Operator with the 1st Special Operations Wing at Pope AFB, North Carolina, from April 1968 to April 1969, followed by service as an EC-135 Airborne Radio Operator with the 9th Airborne Command and Control Squadron at Hickam AFB, Hawaii, from April 1969 to August 1970. SSgt Bridges then completed his bachelor's degree in accounting through the Airman Education and Commissioning Program, followed by Officer Training School at Lackland AFB, where he received his commission as a 2d Lt in the Air Force on September 20, 1972. His next assignment was as an accounting and finance officer with the Air Force Special Weapons Center at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, from September 1972 to September 1974, followed by service as an accounting and finance officer with the 81st Tactical Fighter Wing at RAF Bentwaters, England, from September 1974 to July 1978. Capt Bridges served as a budget officer in the Operating Appropriations Division and then assistant to the deputy director of budget with Headquarters U.S. Air Force at the Pentagon from July 1978 to August 1981. Maj Bridges next attended Armed Forces Staff College at Norfolk, Virginia, from August 1981 to January 1982, and then served as a plans and programs officer and then as Chief of the Program Initiatives Division with Headquarters U.S. Air Forces in Europe at Ramstein AB, West Germany, from January 1982 to June 1984. His next assignment was as Chief of the Investment Funds Division with Headquarters Air Force Logistics Command at Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio, from June 1984 to July 1987, followed by the Industrial College of the Armed Forces at Fort McNair, Washington, D.C., from July 1987 to June 1988. Col Bridges served as Deputy Comptroller with the Arnold Engineering Development Center at Arnold AFB, Tennessee, from July 1988 to July 1989, and then served as Assistant for Budget Programs and Director of Budget Management and Execution in the Office of the Secretary of the Air Force in the Pentagon from July 1989 to September 1991. His next assignment was as Comptroller and Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Financial Management and Chairman of the Program Review Committee with Headquarters Air Force Systems Command at Andrews AFB, Maryland, from September 1991 to July 1992, followed by service as Assistant Deputy Chief of Staff for Financial Management and Comptroller with Headquarters Air Force Material Command at Wright-Patterson AFB from July 1992 to July 1993. Col Bridges served as Director of Financial Management and Comptroller with Headquarters Pacific Air Forces at Hickam AFB, Hawaii, from July 1993 to November 1994, and then as Director of Financial Management and Comptroller with Headquarters Air Force Material Command at Wright-Patterson AFB from November 1994 to July 1995. Gen Bridges' final assignment was as Comptroller with Headquarters Air Mobility Command at Scott AFB, Illinois, from July 1995 until his retirement from the Air Force on August 1, 1999.
His Silver Star Citation reads:
Sergeant Clayton G. Bridges distinguished himself by gallantry in connection with military operations against an opposing armed force as a C-130E Combat Spear Radio Operator in Southeast Asia on 4 December 1967. On that date, Sergeant Bridges flew a combat airdrop mission of vital importance to unconventional warfare operations in Southeast Asia. He penetrated active hostile defenses, marginal weather conditions and incompletely charted mountainous areas to deliver the drop load successfully. By his gallantry and devotion to duty, Sergeant Bridges has reflected great credit upon himself and the United States Air Force.