The Children Are a Gift Foundation, the East Texas Communities Fund and Mayor Barbara Bass recognized the memory of First Sgt. Russell Bell at an event at the Children’s Park on Wednesday.
When Bell’s family attended The 10th Annual Walk in the Park and memorial ceremony on Saturday at the Children’s Park, they asked executive director Jennifer Carson if a flag pole in Bell’s honor could be included in the park’s expansion plans.
“It seemed so totally appropriate, and we were totally on board,” Mrs. Carson said. “When we built the park from 2001 to 2004, God said to make a place where families could come for healing.”
Bell’s wife Latoya and son Gage flew in from North Carolina for the ceremony.
Mayor Bass proclaimed Wednesday as Russell Bell Day of Remembrance.
“His heart was to do everything he could to protect the United States,” she said.
The Children’s Park expansion is estimated to cost $635,000; the city of Tyler has committed 20 percent, and so far 60 percent of the total has been raised.
“We would get daily reports on Russell from his father,” said Kyle Penney, president of the East Texas Communities Fund. “His death was a shock and surprise, and our hearts went out to the Bell family. We wanted to help create a lasting tribute.”
Bell was assigned to the 1/508th 4BCT 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C. and was deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Bell was awarded many times while he served and also received the Purple Heart and the Meritorious Service Medal posthumously.
Those who wish to contribute to Bell’s flagpole or the park expansion can call 903-939-1597 for more information.