First Sgt. Russell Bell, 37, of Tyler, died as a result of wounds suffered when his unit hit an improvised explosive device while on duty in Kandahar province, according to a news release issued by the Department of Defense.
Bell served in the U.S. Army since 1996, according to a news release by the 82nd Airborne Division. Bell was deployed with the Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team.
“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.” Lt. Col. Ced Carrington, 1-508th Battalion Commander, said in the release. “His presence alone made each day brighter. … (He) made a difference every day, and all who worked anywhere near him were immediately drawn to his personality.”
The Tyler solider received more than a dozen commendations during his time in the military, including a Purple Heart, The Army Commendation Medal with Valor, and a Bronze Star Medal with three oak-leaf clusters, according to the release.
His service took him to Italy and Korea before being deployed to Afghanistan. He was on his fourth deployment there in seven years when he died, according to the release.
“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,” the men's commanding officers are quoted saying in the division news release. “They significantly contributed to the accomplishments of this righteous endeavor, and we are indebted to them and their families for their sacrifices.”