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Father of U.S. Soldier Killed in Afghanistan Opens Up About Son

Posted: Updated: Aug 6, 2012 10:28 AM CDT

Update: Tyler, Texas (KYTX) -- Jim Bell, of Tyler, reflects on the unexpected death of his son, 1st Sgt. Russell Bell, a father and husband.

"We all love and miss him dearly. You can't imagine the pain that we're suffering right now," Bell said.

 He's always stood proudly behind his son, who was in the 82nd airborne division out of Fort Bragg. Russell and another soldier lost their lives to an enemy improvised explosive device in Southern Afghanistan.

"He shouldn't have been on this mission. He could've stayed back because he was their commander, but he wanted to be with them whenever they went out. He paid the ultimate price," Bell said.

Bell served 16 years in the Army and was on his fourth deployment to Afghanistan. He was set to come home in September. "I felt, from the day he left on this last deployment, that it wasn't going to come out well."

The soldier leaves behind his wife Latoya, and one-year-old son, Gage."When Gage was born, I told him that he was going to be an excellent father. He said, 'I had a good teacher'," Bell said.

The flag at the Bell's home in Tyler now waves at half-staff. "Some people have already shown up and put some flowers at the bottom of the flag there," Bell said.

Russell Bell did leave an envelope for his dad, if he didn't come back. "I'm sure it's a personal letter to me,and I don't have the courage right now to open it," he said.

It may be some time before he does.

We also received the following statement from those who served overseas with Bell:

"1st Sgt. Russell Bell was one of the best all around leaders I have
had the privilege of serving alongside...His presence alone made each day brighter. He always looked for opportunities to make
those around him laugh. "-- Lt. Col. Ced Carrington

 

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UPDATE: FORT BRAGG, N.C. (KYTX) - They died Aug. 2, in Kandahar province, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when they encountered an enemy improvised explosive device.  These soldiers were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. 


FORT BRAGG, N.C. - Two 82nd Airborne Division Paratroopers were killed in

action Thursday by an improvised explosive device during dismounted

operations in Zharay District, Kandahar Province, Afghanistan.

 

1st Sgt. Russell R. Bell, 37, of Tyler, Texas, and Staff Sgt. Matthew

S. Sitton, 26, of Largo, Fla., were Paratroopers assigned to Headquarters

and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment,

4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

 

1st Sgt. Bell joined the Army on January 24, 1996 as an Infantryman,

attending One Station Unit Training and U.S. Army Airborne School at Ft.

Benning, Ga. before reporting to Camp Casey, Korea for his first assignment.

After spending a year in Korea, 1st Sgt. Bell reported to Fort Bragg where

he served at various levels in 1st Bn., 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment

for more than five years and then transitioned to his drill sergeant duties

at Fort Jackson, S.C. Following his tour at Fort Jackson, 1st Sgt. Bell

returned to the airborne community with the 508th PIR in Italy and

subsequently returned to Fort Bragg where he served as a 1st Sgt. for more

than three years in two different units, most recently with HHC, 1st Bn.,

508th PIR. This was his fourth combat deployment to Afghanistan over the

course of seven years.

 

"1st Sgt. Russell Bell was one of the best all around leaders I have

had the privilege of serving alongside in over 18 years of military

service." said Lt. Col. Ced Carrington, 1-508th Battalion Commander. "His

presence alone made each day brighter. He constantly shared stories that

put smiles on Troopers' faces. He always looked for opportunities to make

those around him laugh - particularly during tough situations. 1st Sgt.

Bell made a difference every day and all who worked anywhere near him were

immediately drawn to his personality."

 

1st Sgt. Bell's training and accomplishments include Airborne School,

Air Assault School, Warrior's Leader Course, Advanced Leader's Course, Drill

Sergeant School, Jumpmaster School, U.S. Army Ranger Course and the Senior

Leader's Course.

 

His awards include the Bronze Star Medal with three oak leaf clusters,

the Purple Heart, the Army Commendation Medal with Valor, the Army

Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Army Achievement Medal

with two oak leaf clusters, the Army Good Conduct Medal with five bronze

knots, the National Defense Service Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal

with three campaign stars, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal,

the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, the Korean Defense Service Medal,

the Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Medal with two oak leaf

clusters, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Service Ribbon with the

numeral three, the NATO medal, the Drill Sergeant Identification Badge, the

Ranger Tab, the Combat Infantry Badge, the Expert Infantryman Badge, the

Master Parachutist Badge, and the Air Assault Badge.

 

Staff Sgt. Sitton joined the Army on March 2, 2006 as an Infantryman,

attending Basic Training and Airborne School at Ft. Benning, Ga. and joined

4th Brigade in August 2007. This was his second combat deployment to

Afghanistan.

 

His battalion commander, Lt. Col. Ced Carrington regarded him as "One

of the battalion's most proficient and well-trained Leaders. The bond he

developed with his team serves as a testament to how much he was loved and

respected by the Troopers who served beside him. His no-nonsense approach

towards accomplishing tough tasks was commendable. There was no task that

he could not accomplish."

 

Staff Sgt. Sitton's accomplishments and training include Airborne

School, Long Range Reconnaissance Course, U.S. Army Ranger Course, U.S. Army

Sniper School, Warrior's Leader Course and Advanced Leader's Course.

 

His awards include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Army

Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster, the Army Achievement Medal,

the Army Good Conduct Medal with one knot, the National Defense Service

Medal, the Afghanistan Campaign Medal with a campaign star, the Global War

on Terrorism Service Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the Overseas Ribbon

with the numeral two, the NATO medal, the Combat Action Badge, the Expert

Infantryman Badge and the Parachutist Badge. 

 

The 4th Brigade Command Team, Col. Brian Mennes and Command Sgt. Maj.

William Forro shared this statement "1st Sgt. Bell and Staff Sgt. Sitton are

American Patriots who were part of an initiative to remove the Taliban

influence on a key sub-district in Zharay, the Nation's main effort. They

significantly contributed to the accomplishments of this righteous endeavor

and we are indebted to them and their families for their sacrifices."


 

 


 

 

FORT BRAGG (WRAL)- Two U.S. Army soldiers based at Fort Bragg have been killed in Afghanistan, the Defense Department said Sunday.

Staff Sgt. Matthew S. Sitton and 1st Sgt. Russell R. Bell died Thursday in Kandahar province from wounds sustained in an improvised explosive device blast.

Both men were assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.

Sitton, 26, was originally from Largo, Fla.

Bell, 37, was a native of Tyler, Texas. 

 

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