A Commanding Presence
I come from a long line of warriors. My grandfather, Samuel V. Bell Sr., served in WWI, my brother, Christopher Allen Bell, served in Viet-Nam, and my father, Samuel V. Bell Jr., served in Korea. This Veterans Day I pay special tribute to my father, Lt. Commander Samuel V. Bell Jr., who served in the United States Navy for 22 years.
According to his unpublished auto-biography, Commander Bell saw action as a young man on seas off the coast of Korea where he fought the North Koreans and the Chinese. He and his ship, the USS Zellars, provided support for General Douglas MacArthur’s 10th Army Corps which consisted of 50,000 troops. He also participated in the opening of Wonsan Harbor on the East Coast of Korea.
Lt. Commander Samuel V. Bell Jr. entered the U.S. Navy in 1943 when he was seventeen. He was accepted into an officers training programmed and became a commissioned officer 1945 just as WWII was drawing to a close. He was at the Navy Ship Yards in Philadelphia when I was born in 1948 in Louisville, Kentucky. Two years later, my brother Chris was born, while my father was fighting the Chinese in Korea. This information and what follows was gleaned from a family scrapbook which was lovingly put together by his daughters and his grand daughters, Susan Bell, Whitney Vale, Lisa Bell, and Summer Sneed.
Served on the following ships and duty Stations:
• 1945-1946 USS Tarawa – Aircraft Carrier
• 1947-1949 USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. – Destroyer
• 1950-1951 USS Zellars – Destroyer
• 1953-1956 USS Norton Sound – Experimental Missile Ship
• 1956-1957 China Lake, California – Guided Missile Unit 25
• 1958-1961 Norfolk, Virginia, Staff of Amphibious Group, Atlantic Fleet
• 1962-1963 USS Columbus, Guided Missile Cruiser
• 1963-1964 General Electric, Pittsfield, Mass. Technical Advisor on Navy’s Polaris Submarine Ballistic Missile program
Awarded the following Medals:
• American Campaign Medal
• WWII Victory Medal
• Commendation Medal with Combat
• Navy Occupation Medal
• China Service Medal
• Korean Service Medal with 4 Battle Stars
• United Nations Service Medal
• Korean Presidential Unit Citation
• American Defense Service Medal
In 1964 He retired from the Navy and began his second career at University of Louisville teaching electrical engineering. He retired from teaching in 1995 and lives in Louisville, Kentucky where he is cared for by his family.
As the saying goes, old soldiers never die, they just fade way. My father’s light is not burning as bright as it once was but still it burns. He will be remembered for his impact on his family’s lives, his service to his country, and for the values he always projected: Courage, honor, and duty. Raised during the so called Great Depression, he was a hard-working man who taught me the value of hard work and discipline. We salute you, Dad, on Veterans Day!
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