More detail on this person: On January 14th, 2022, Lester R Bell, 83, passed away at Madrona House in Bainbridge Island, WA. Lester was reunited with me and mother and was assigned to many duty stations including Fort Knox, Fort Ord, Ansbach and Berchtesgaden Germany, several schools including Fort Rucker, CGSC in Fort Leavenworth, Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, and concluded his career serving as the Professor of Military Science at Lafayette College in Easton PA. He was promoted to Lieutenant Colonel while at Lafayette. Lester retired after he reached his 20 years of officer service in 1987. Lester was born on May 18th, 1938, in Mountain View, AR. Lester was the son of Johnnie Ralph Bell and Ethel Irene Sands. After receiving his master's degree, Lester went on to become a helicopter pilot and served for many years in the US Army. Lester was a Bainbridge Island resident for over five years and will be missed by many including his wife Judith Carolyn Bell and son Michael A Bell. I would like to provide a brief history of my father's military career which included nearly 30 years of combined service. Lester began his military career as a PFC and completed basic training in 1957 at Fort Ord, California. He was married to my mother Judy on a Sunday which was two days after he had completed basic. After they were married Lester was sent to Fort Chaffee, AR and was assigned for duty at Fort Hood, Texas with the 1st Armored Division. My 18 year old mother drove from Southern California all the way to Killeen TX solo and made it to Fort Hood where their first home. Lester served in the Army and I believe achieved the rank of sergeant before he left the regular army and returned to the civilian world and went to college. He joined the Army Reserve and the California National Guard and served as a reserve through the 1960s. At the beginning of the Viet Nam War, Lester had a cousin in the National Guard named Olis Kendrick who was already a helicopter pilot. Olis took Lester for a ride which provided some of the inspiration for Lester to pursue becoming an aviator. Lester went to OCS and was commissioned as a first lieutenant through the National Guard. He then was accepted to flight school at Fort Wolters, TX, and completed his training as a member of Class 68-20, B-2, 2nd Officer Student Company per the picture our family saved where he appears to be the only captain who was a member of this class. Lester was selected to attend attack helicopter school at Hunter Army Airfield, GA and finished first in his class. He was thankful that he was selected to fly the AH1 Cobra helicopter as he said it saved his life during his tour of duty in Viet Nam. Lester was the XO of an Air Cavalry unit in Viet Nam in late 1968 into 1969. He had many difficult missions but returned to Fort Knox KY having never been wounded. Thank goodness for the element of surprise that the Cobra was afforded in many "search and destroy" missions.
Burial information: Tahoma National Cemetery
This information was last updated 04/01/2022
Please send additions or corrections to: HQ@vhpa.org VHPA Headquarters
Return to the Helicopter Pilot DAT name list
Return to VHPA web site
Date posted on this site: 09/05/2022
Copyright © 1998 - 2022 Vietnam Helicopter Pilots Association