Wednesday, June 28, 2023

Bob Aldridge, Presente! Posted on May 14, 2022 by Leonard Eiger

Bob Aldridge, Presente!

Editor’s Note: Our dear friend and colleague Bob Aldridge joined the Cloud of Witnesses on April 31st. The following offerings, including two from Ground Zero co-founders Jim and Shelley Douglass, are an introductory tribute to Bob. There will be more to come. Check back at the Ground Zero home page for other posts.


We wouldn’t be here without Bob Aldridge! By Leonard Eiger

It is no hyperbole to say that Bob Aldridge is the reason that Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action exists and continues to resist Trident. Bob’s story is one of faith, awareness, family and courage. Ground Zero co-founder Jim Douglass reminds us that it was “Bob’s courageous witness that alerted many to the first-strike capabilities of Trident.” His legacy continues to enrich and guide our work.

Back in the early 1970s Bob was a missile designer at Lockheed Missiles and Space Corporation working on the first Trident missile design (the Trident missile would be built for the new OHIO Class “Trident” ballistic missile submarines and would carry thermonuclear warheads). Bob recognized something about the maneuvering reentry vehicle that he was designing; it was designed “to home-in on underground missile silos in a nuclear first strike” (Ground Zero Newsletter, Vol. 7, Issue 3, July 2002). Bob’s conscience got the better of him (something that has not happened to the vast majority of nuclear weapons scientists or engineers), and after a family retreat following Christmas 1972 Bob submitted his resignation letter to Lockheed.

A year later Bob met with Jim and Shelley Douglass and told them of his remarkable journey from missile designer to student of nonviolence, and briefed them on the plans to create what would be known as Sub Base Bangor (West Coast home of the new Trident fleet) on the shores of the Hood Canal in Washington State, just 20 miles from Seattle. And so the seeds of Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action were sown by a person with the courage to follow his convictions.

In 1977 Jim Douglass and John Williams found 3.8 acres of land with a small house right next to the Bangor fence. What a find! A year later Bob sent Jim and Shelley Douglass an urgent letter warning of the first strike threat that Trident represented (the first Trident submarine was commissioned in November 1981). First strike meant that Trident would likely be used to deliver a preemptive surprise attack of overwhelming force on the Soviet Union.

The Douglasses and many others continued building Ground Zero (which was preceded by the Pacific Life Community) as they worked in common resistance to Trident; blocking the railroad tracks on which the “White Trains” brought the nuclear warheads and rocket motors, leafletting at the gates of Bangor and blocking the gate, and building awareness of the dangers (as well as the immorality and illegality) of Trident and all nuclear weapons.

It has been nearly 50 years since the Christmas miracle that gave us the gift of this community of nonviolence known as Ground Zero Center for Nonviolent Action. The Douglasses have grown into other peacemaking endeavors, and other dedicated peacemakers have joined in over the years. Out of those fertile seeds planted by Bob Aldridge (and nurtured by many others) has grown a strong and beautiful tree, the fruit of which is a community of people dedicated to the principles of nonviolence and a world free of the spectre of nuclear weapons.

Bob Aldridge, Presente


A reflection by Shelley Douglass

It’s probably not fair to say there’d be no Trident campaign without Bob Aldridge.  I’m sure someone would have realized the first-strike capability of Trident eventually, and people would have worked against it.

But THIS Trident campaign could not have happened – be happening – without Bob, and Janet, and their family.  THIS Trident campaign began with the person who was designing the re-entry vehicle for the missile system.  THIS Trident campaign began with a family decision to non-cooperate with evil.  THIS campaign began with a Trident designer, and a conscientious family making a decision to resist, together.

That’s why, from the very beginning, this campaign has seen Trident workers as potential partners in the work.  It’s why we leafleted for so long, why we try to build relationships and community across fences and lines.  It’s why so many people who once disagreed have become part of the community.  It’s why we’ve tried to include and respect relationships and family ties. Bob planted the seed for those attitudes, and the seed has borne good fruit.

Bob did a lot of other good things of course – explaining the first strike system, analyzing nuclear policy, and lately writing about the goodness underlying the universe, and inviting us to make it visible.  Those are all gifts from Bob, but the first best gift was his example which did indeed make goodness visible.  May we continue to follow him.


Bob Aldridge, Help UsBy Jim Douglass

Bob Aldridge never stopped seeing, changing, and acting on every truthful urge in his life,

from a Trident missile designer

to a proactive nonviolent warrior

to a satyagrahi for earthly harmony

to a pilgrim in the Goodness Field of the universe.

Bob kept striving for a way of transformation for each and all

before it was too late for us all

in a blast of fire at the end of it all.

So a prayer through Bob at the heart of the Goodness Field on this Mothers Day:

Give us the eyes to see

and the urge to walk

in union with all on Earth.

May we see our opposing parts

as the heart and soul of who we are,

members of our family

on both sides of our fence.

May we walk together,

mothers and fathers,

sisters and brothers,

on the moral arc of the universe,

into the arms of Love.


See Bob in 1980 speaking about the realities of the Trident nuclear weapon system and of his transition to activism.