Ridley received a UDC World War II cross for his service in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS George Eastman and the USS Sherwood Anderson during World War II. He also received a UDC National Defense medal for his service aboard the USS Fitch in the U.S. Navy during the Korean War. His eligibility is based on the Confederate military service of his great-grandfather James J. Free who served in Co. H Battalion, Georgia Infantry.
The General Cleburne UDC Chapter, chartered in 2003, bestowed its first military service award in 2005. From 2005 to the present, this chapter has bestowed more than 100 awards to veterans throughout East Central Alabama. Current emphasis of the chapter is the honoring of living World War II veterans.