The Spirit to Soar
Inspiring Life Lessons and Values for a Victorious Life
The True Story of Former Orphan & POW, Lt. Col. Barry B. Bridger, US Air Force (Ret.)
By Jim Petersen, PhD
On January 23 rd , 1967, Lt. Colonel Barry Bridger and his copilot, Dave Grey, launched a mission over Vietnam in their Phantom F-4 fighter jet in treacherous weather. It was Colonel Bridger’s 75 th mission and the only one he had attempted in the daylight hours.
Suddenly, his plane was split in half by a ground-to-air missile. He and Grey ejected while the plane was going 600 miles per hour and began their descent into the unknown below. When Bridger finally landed on terra firma, he found the North Vietnamese army waiting for him. They arrested him and Grey and checked them into The Hanoi Hilton—a place designed to break the spirit of all who
Barry Bridger survived that hellish experience and even thrived. He will tell you without any hesitation that it was his deeply held values that made it possible to withstand the torture he and his fellow prisoners of war were subjected to. The Spirit to Soar (Morgan James Books, February
2022) was conceived by Bridger’s good friend and colleague, Jim Petersen. When they met some thirty years ago, Petersen knew right away that Barry was special.. The following quote from Bridger gives you a glimpse into Barry’s remarkably optimistic mindset:
“In Vietnam, I solved more problems with nothing than I did with something because I had control of my mind, similar to what I had experienced as an orphan. We got to the point of doing so much with so little, we figured we
could do everything with nothing. That’s where the happiness factor comes in. That’s why POWs were happy. I was never, ever sad. I wasn’t sitting around crying because of my circumstances.”
Bridger’s harrowing experiences in Vietnam prepared him to be successful in every phase of his life. Instead of tearing him down, his worst enemies actually built him up! All because he refused to have even one bad day, no matter how much they tried to make it so. In fact, Bridger and his comrades had great fun befuddling their North Vietnamese captors; you will probably find yourself laughing at the antics they engaged in to infuriate their captors.
“Here is the legacy I want to leave to my family: I would remind them to live by this model: first and foremost, to obtain virtue, which means you sacrifice your own private approach to life for the greater good.”
It has been more than fifty years since The Hanoi Hilton, and Barry still hasn’t had a single bad day. His is a successful marriage to the love of his life, Sheila. He raised two successful children who adore him. He had a successful career in the financial services industry and is constantly reinventing himself. He is blessed with a great reputation and a host of friends who love and admire him. He has no regrets.
Barry Bridger has soared. Jim Petersen shares life lessons learned from Barry’s life in this book which will inspire you, too, to rise above your darkest hours and be your best. Not with some ivory-tower, theoretical mumbo jumbo. But with real life lessons drawn from the life of a real, live American Hero.
Every now and then author James S. Parker has a vision. And, when he does, he sees people and places off in the misty distance. Sometimes these visions are futuristic and filled with danger. Most often they are mystical, with good and evil and a cast of characters who beautifully represent both.