We always feel like we’ve stumbled into a secret society meeting at the Lone Sailor Awards. Turns out all these big-deal civilians, these guys in business suits or tuxes, have a shared past — as swabbies!
The gala, hosted by the U.S. Navy Memorial, honors veterans of the sea services for their achievements in later life — among them, in recent years, Arnold Palmer, Yogi Berra, Bill Cosby . On Thursday night, it was C-SPAN founder Brian Lamb, baseball greats Jerry Coleman and the late Bob Feller, and a family group that you probably never guessed did time with the Coast Guard: The Bridges of Hollywood.
Now, Lloyd, you can totally picture in the service — “Sea Hunt,” remember? But Jeff and Beau — those rakishly Fabulous Baker Boys? The Dude? Really, who knew?
Bridges père left a job with Columbia Pictures’ stock players to join up at the start ot World War II. But it had to be unusual for showbiz kids to enlist in the ’60s, no?
Not at all, Beau told us. Kennedy had just put up the blockade on Cuba. “I thought we were going to war” he said, and he wanted to help protect his country. He explained further in his speech: “My father said, ‘Maybe you should enlist — pick your service.’ I picked the Coast Guard.”
The actor, accepting on behalf of his late father and his younger Oscar-winning brother (off working on his sideline as a country singer these days), did eight years, including time in the reserves; on the USCGC Dexter he was both a cook and editor of the ship’s newspaper.
“The preparation has lasted me a lifetime,” he said. “The idea of being part of a company, of respecting your mates, of attention to detail.”