Thursday, January 05, 2012

Air Force Senior Airman Bryan R. Bell

Remember Our Heroes

Air Force Senior Airman Bryan R. Bell, 23, of Erie, Pa.

SrA Bell was assigned to 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base, La.; died Jan. 5, 2012 in Shir Gazay, Helmand province, Afghanistan, when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device. Also killed were Tech. Sgt. Matthew S. Schwartz and Airman 1st Class Matthew R. Seidler.

SrA Bell graduated from Harbor Creek High School in 2006, where he lettered in football and was on the baseball and track teams.

Since the age of 14, SrA Bell had been an active volunteer member of Fairfield Hose Company. Over his years of service with Fairfield, he eventually attained the rank of a senior fireman.

SrA Bell joined the Air Force in 2007. He served as a bomb disposal technician. In 2010, Bryan received national news media attention as photos of him at work circulated in conjunction with the release of the film, "Hurt Locker".

SrA Bell was a motorcycle enthusiast. He was an avid Buffalo Bills, Cincinnati Reds, Detroit Red Wings and Bobby LaBonte racing fan. He enjoyed camping, grilling, playing his PlayStation and was especially proud of his truck. He loved animals and dearly loved his pet dog, "Daisy" and his pet cat, "Terry".

SrA Bell had been deployed since last November. This was his second deployment, having previously been deployed to Iraq.

SrA Bell's awards and decorations include:
Bronze Star
Purple Heart
Iraq Campaign Medal

3 EOD techs remembered for altruism, humor

By Jeff Schogol
Staff writer

Richard Bell remembers how his son explained why he became an Air Force explosive ordnance technician: “Dad, I don’t want to kill people, I want to save people.”

Originally, the younger Bell wanted to be a firefighter, like his father, but he found the opportunity to defuse bombs appealed to him, Richard Bell said.

“The last phone conversation I had with him several weeks ago, he was pretty elated that they had taken care of an IED,” the elder Bell said. “So it’s comforting for me to know that he was doing what he wanted to do, and he always told me that.”

The two wouldn’t get a chance to speak again. Senior Airman Bryan R. Bell, 23, was killed Jan. 5 in Afghanistan along with two other EOD technicians: Tech. Sgt. Matthew S. Schwartz, 34; and Airman 1st Class Matthew R. Seidler, 24. They were killed by a roadside bomb in Shir Ghazay, Helmand province.

Standing more than 6 feet tall and with massive arms, Bryan Bell was a “gentle giant” whose motto was to “live today like there’s no tomorrow,” his father recalled.

“He rarely didn’t smile,” Richard Bell said. “When he came into a room, he lit up a room. The charisma that he had was amazing. I’ve never met anybody with a better outlook towards life. I don’t think I’ve ever met anybody that had more charisma than him.”

In addition to clearing bombs overseas, Bryan Bell worked with the Secret Service on at least four occasions to search for possible explosive devices during President Obama’s domestic trips, his father said.

On one such trip, Obama acknowledged his son.

“I remember him telling me in a phone conversation, he says, ‘I just stood by and seen the president walk by and he nodded his head at me … the president knew I was alive,’ ” the elder Bell said.

Air Force Senior Airman Bryan R. Bell was killed in action on 01/05/12.

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