JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKHAM -- Before the military was an option, growing up, Phillip Ridley said he would go outside to play different types of sports and would use his imagination to have fun with his friends.
“We built this treehouse and paths leading to it in the woods,” said Ridley “We would go through there and sometimes we were James Bond saving the world; other times, we were in the military.”
Ridley gained inspirations to join the military from movies and also from his large collection of G.I. Joe action figures as a child.
Lt. Cmdr. Ridley, an Asheville, North Carolina native, enlisted in the U.S. Navy in 1990 as a cryptologic technician maintainer. In 1995, he graduated from Chapman University with an electronic degree.
“My goal when I joined was to get through college,” said Ridley. “After serving my first enlistment, I just kept deciding to keep going on with the career path.”
After serving 12 years in the enlisted ranks, he commissioned as an ensign in February 2002 in the U.S. Navy reserves where he was designated as a Chaplain Candidate Program officer. He earned his masters of Christian education degree, leading to both his ordination and chaplain’s endorsement.
“I grew up going to church with my parents,” he said. “I fell off but when my daughter was around seven years old, I got back on track. I received my call as a chaplain when I was commissioned.”
Ridley’s first initial chaplain assignment was to 1st Battalion, 1st Marine Regiment located at Camp Pendleton, California where he was deployed to Fallujah, Iraq dually assigned to 10th Mountain Army Brigade at Abu Ghraib prison.
“In Iraq, I took care of the Service members in the battalion,” said Ridley. “We also had Iraqis on the camp that we provided for. We don’t always have every religion where we are at but we will outsource to aid to the diversity of religions.”
After the deployment, Ridley was assigned to Bethesda, Maryland where he provided ministry to combat wounded veterans, their families and the hospital staff. During that time, he completed a Clinical Pastoral Education residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Following that tour, in 2010, he was assigned as the pre-commissioning chaplain for the USS San Diego (LPD-22) where he deployed with Destroyer Squadron 23 on a theater security cooperative mission in the South Pacific.
“No matter what kind of deployment you’re on, there will always be someone who needs to talk or needs spiritual uplifting,” said Ridley.
In early 2013, he assumed the responsibilities of command chaplain at Navy Information Operations Command, Fort Meade, MD., where he provided pastoral care for 2,750 Sailors, Marines, guardsmen and their families.
Ridley has a wife, Ginger, and two daughters, Candence and Jocelyn. He credits the success of his career to his family.
“My wife and kids have sacrificed so much for me to continue serving,” said Ridley. “A lot of people don’t understand how much the family goes through when they’re spouse is on deployment or at work; especially when the kids are young.”
On December 20, 2018, Ridley will be retiring after almost 29 faithful years of service in the U.S. Navy. His plans for retirement is to spend time with his family back on mainland United States.
“Being there for my brothers and sisters is definitely what drove me to continue serving,” he said. “But I thinks it’s time to hang up the uniform for my family’s sake.”