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Air Force Senior Airman Bryan R. Bell

Died January 5, 2012 Serving During Operation Enduring Freedom

23, of Erie, Pa.; assigned to 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base, La.; died Jan. 5 at Camp Bastion, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered when his vehicle struck an improvised explosive device. Also killed were Tech. Sgt. Matthew S. Schwartz and Airman 1st Class Matthew R. Seidler.

Pentagon: IED killed 3 airmen in Afghanistan

Staff report

The Defense Department on Jan. 7 formally announced the deaths earlier this week of three airmen in Afghanistan, saying they were killed in an improvised explosive device explosion.

The airmen died Jan. 5 in Shir Ghazay district, Helmand province, when their vehicle was struck by an IED, the Defense Department said.

The fallen airmen are:

• Senior Airman Bryan R. Bell, 23, of Erie, Pa. Bell was assigned to the 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron, Barksdale Air Force Base, La. Previous reports state Bell enlisted in 2006 and had been in Afghanistan for two months.

• Tech. Sgt. Matthew S. Schwartz, 34, of Traverse City, Mich. Schwartz was assigned to the 90th Civil Engineer Squadron, F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo.

• Airman 1st Class Matthew R. Seidler, 24, of Westminster, Md. Seidler was assigned to the 21st Civil Engineer Squadron, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.

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.

Barksdale holds memorial for fallen airman

By John Andrew Prime
The (Shreveport, La.) Times

Chapel 2, the more modern and austere of the two centers of worship at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., was the setting Jan. 20 of a memorial for the bomber base's latest fallen fighter.

A private memorial for Senior Airman Bryan R. Bell, 23, a Pennsylvania native and Louisiana Tech graduate, was closed to media at the family's request.
Bell was buried Jan. 16 with full military honors at Wintergreen Gorge Cemetery in Erie County, Pa.

Bell, from Harborcreek Township, Pa., died in a Jan. 5 improvised explosive device attack on his military vehicle in Shir Ghazay in Helmand province, Afghanistan. Also killed were Tech. Sgt. Matthew S. Schwartz, 34, of Traverse City, Mich.; and Airman 1st Class Matthew R. Seidler, 24, of Westminster, Md.

An athlete and a volunteer fireman in Harborcreek and the surrounding area since age 14, he had risen to the rank of senior fireman when he joined the Air Force in 2007 and chose to work in the dangerous but vital field of explosive-ordnance disposal.

A veteran of the Iraq war, he started his second war tour in October and had earned a Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.

Bell's survivors include his widow, Alaina Hart Bell; a sister who also serves in the Air Force, Airman 1st Class Candice Bell, and stepsiblings; his parents and stepparents; and his grandparents.

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