Lt. Bruce Bagwell

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Lt. Bruce Bagwell

“Bags” served as #7/Narrator from 1955-1957, flying the F9F-8 Cougar and F11F Tiger with Bosses Zeke Cormier (#1 ’54-56) and Ed Holley (#1 ’57-58) and a host of colorful characters: Nello Pierozzi, Ken Wallace, Ed McKellar, Lefty Schwartz, Tom Jefferson, and Herb Hunter. He sends his greetings and best wishes to his surviving teammates: Bill Gureck and Bob Rasmussen.

Lt. Bruce Bagwell

“LT Bags Bagwell” organizing film from photoshoot.

A few highlights from his Blue Angels tour:

  • Introduction of the 6-plane Delta Takeoff and Landing.
  • Transition to the F-11 Tiger.
  • 10th Anniversary Season in 1956 with appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, What’s My Line?, and The Today Show.
  • Filming “The Navy’s Blue Angels” 25-minute movie, narrated by Robert Taylor, movie star and heartthrob to millions of women. 
  • Ernest Borgnine, Academy Award winner for Best Actor in the movie “Marty” and star of the hit TV series, “McHale’s Navy” rode with Bags in the 7-jet and spoke of his love of the Navy as a retired Navy Chief Petty Officer (later selected as Honorary Flight Leader).
  • He received a standing ovation from the crowd at the Toronto International Air Exposition for his extemporaneous narration (read the story HERE). 
Blue and yellow stripe divider

LT Bagwell, Sharon Ritchie (Miss America 1956), Boss Zeke Cormier

Blue Angels with wives on the beach at NAS Pensacola

Blue Angels with wives on the beach at NAS Pensacola. (From movie “Navy’s Blue Angels”)

Life after the Blue Angels

When he retired from the Navy, he went to work in banking, beginning in a management class and retired as VP of Operations with Sovran Bank. Within the first two weeks of retirement he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer. He survived that and went on to design and enjoy his home in the woods of Fairfax Station. He was married to Elise, the love of his life for 70 years, who passed away last year.

“My life so far seems to have been ruled by good luck and timing. Being selected for the Navy’s Blue Angels was just such an improbable event. It wasn’t a dream come true because I wasn’t conceited enough to dream of such a thing.”

— Bruce Bagwell, (#7, ’55-’57)
1957 Blue Angels Yearbook page featuring Lt. Bruce Bagwell
1957 Blue Angels Yearbook
1957 Blue Angels
1957 Blue Angels
Gray Angel trophy