Vice Admiral Bruce MacDonald was born in 1956 in Cincinnati, Ohio. He graduated from the College of the Holy Cross in 1978 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English, and entered the Navy in May of that year.
MacDonald was commissioned an ensign in the unrestricted line through the Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps. Following the normal surface warfare pipeline, he reported to the USS Hepburn (FF 1055) in October 1979, where he served as the main propulsion assistant and navigator. After a two-year tour at Fleet Combat Training Center, Pacific, where he served as intermediate combat systems team training and advanced multi-threat team training course director, he was selected for the Law Education Program in 1984. He received his degree of Juris Doctor from California Western School of Law in 1987.
In 1987, MacDonald reported to Naval Legal Service Office, San Diego, where he served as senior defense counsel, trial counsel, and medical care recovery act claims officer. In 1990, he reported aboard USS Independence (CV 62) as the command judge advocate. After receiving a Master of Laws degree from Harvard Law School in Cambridge, Mass., in 1992, he was transferred to Seoul, Korea, where he served as chief, Operational Law Division, on the staffs of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and United States Forces, Korea. He also served as staff judge advocate on the staff of United States Naval Forces, Korea.
In August 1994, MacDonald reported aboard Naval Legal Service Office Northwest as its executive officer. In November 1996, he became the officer in charge of Trial Service Office West Detachment, Bremerton, Wash. In July 1997, he reported to Commander 7th Fleet in Yokosuka, Japan, as the fleet judge advocate. MacDonald assumed command of Naval Legal Service Office, Northwest, in August 1999, serving as commanding officer until June 2002. He was assigned to the Pentagon as the special counsel to the Chief of Naval Operations from June 2002 through October 2004. In November 2004, MacDonald became the deputy judge advocate general and commander, Naval Legal Service Command. In July 2006, MacDonald assumed his current position as judge advocate general of the Navy.
MacDonald is admitted to practice before the courts of the State of California and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. His military decorations include the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Legion of Merit with two Gold Stars, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Meritorious Service Medal with Gold Star, the Navy Commendation Medal with Gold Star and the Navy Achievement Medal with Gold Star. He and his wife have one daughter.