The Department of Defense reports 1st Sgt. Russell R. Bell, 37, of Tyler, was one of two soldiers killed Aug. 2, when they encountered an enemy improvised explosive device in Kandahar province, Afghanistan.

Sgt. Bell, who was on his fourth combat deployment to Afghanistan in seven years and was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat team of the 82nd Airborne Division out of Fort Bragg, N.C.

Sgt. Bell was a 1993 graduate of Chapel Hill High School. He first joined the Army in 1996 as an infantryman and ended his time as a highly decorated soldier.

His awards included:

  • Bronze Star Medal with three oak leaf clusters
  • The Purple Heart
  • Army Commendation Medal with Valor
  • Army Commendation Medal with one oak leaf cluster
  • Army Achievement Medal with two oak leaf clusters
  • Army Good Conduct Medal with five bronze knots,
  • National Defense Service Medal
  • Afghanistan Campaign Medal with three campaign stars
  • Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal
  • Global War on Terrorism Service Medal
  • Korean Defense Service Medal
  • Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Medal with two oak leaf clusters
  • Army Service Ribbon
  • Overseas Service Ribbon with the numeral three
  • NATO medal
  • Drill Sergeant Identification Badge
  • Ranger Tab
  • Combat Infantry Badge
  • Expert Infantryman Badge
  • Master Parachutist Badge
  • Air Assault Badge

Lt. Col. Ced Carrington, 1-508th Battalion Commander, said this about Bell:

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. 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.”

Our thoughts and prayers are with the Russell family.

Here is a tribute Big D and Bubba did on their show this morning to 1st Sgt. Bell: