More detail on this person: Col. Lawrence A. Bell (Ret.), passed away on Dec. 9, 2013. He was
born in Orlando, Fla., on April 15, 1934, to Willis Gordon and Lillian Macklin Bell. In 1952, he was
a member of the last graduating class of Orlando High School. Upon graduation, he entered The
Citadel in Charleston, S.C. Upon completion of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps curriculum at
the Citadel in 1956, he was commissioned in the Regular Army as a second lieutenant in the Infantry
and awarded a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science. His military education included completion of
the Infantry Officers' Advanced Course, the United States Army Command and General Staff College
and the National War College. Upon completion of Ranger training in 1957, he was assigned to the
82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, N.C. There he qualified as an Army parachutist and Jump
After this initial assignment and 21 jumps, he attended Army Aviation Flight Training at San Marcos, Texas and Fort Rucker, Ala. For the next 28 years, he rotated between Infantry and Aviation assignments. He was qualified in both fixed wing and helicopter aircraft and attained a total of over 4,000 hours over the span of his career.
During his 30 years of service, he held a wide variety of command and staff assignments to include overseas service in Korea, Germany, Vietnam and Panama. His two combat tours in Vietnam included assignments in 1967 as Aviation Assault Platoon Commander and Personnel Officer, 145ft Combat Aviation Battalion, and in 1969 as Assistant Division Aviation Officer, 4th Infantry Division. Col. Bell commanded the 145ft Combat Aviation Battalion at Fort Benning, Ga., during 1972 to 1974. He served in the Pentagon in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel from 1974 to 1977. After completion of the National War College in 1978, he was assigned to the Army Recruiting Command as Inspector General. From 1982 to 1985, he was the Deputy Commander, 193rd Infantry Brigade in Panama. His last assignment, 1980 to 1986, was the Army Aviation Center, Fort Rucker, Ala., where he served as Special Assistant to the Commanding General and Deputy Assistant Commandant. He retired in 1986.
Col. Bell's awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, Bronze Star Medal (Third Oak Leaf Cluster), Meritorious Service Medal (First Oak Leaf Cluster), Air Meal, Army Commendation Medal (Second Oak Leaf Cluster) National Defense Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Valorous Unit Award, Vietnam Service Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, Republic of Vietnam Campaign Medal, General Staff Identification Badge, Master Army Aviator Badge, Parachutist Badge and Ranger Tab. In Panama, the Panama Canal Commission awarded Col. Bell the Commission's Honorary Public Service Award. He also was the recipient of the commission's highest award, the gold medallion, for his notable contribution to the civilian and military communities in Panama.
In 1986, after 30 years of military service, he and his devoted wife and companion, Mary Ann, retired in Melbourne Shores, Fla., next to the Atlantic shore. For nine wonderful years they enjoyed great friends, golfing, fishing, boating and cruises. In 1995, they moved to Niceville, Fla., to be closer to family in Tallahassee, Fla.
Larry thoroughly enjoyed his new life on the Emerald Coast making new friends and enjoying the many activities available in this area. He loved the game of golf and he always believed that it revealed more about oneself than any other sport. When he could golf no more, he volunteered for the USO at the Airport and the VA clinic at Eglin Air Force Base.
Larry is survived by his wife, Mary Ann, of 57 years; son, Lawrence A. Bell Jr. of Woodbridge, VA.; son, James, and daughter-in-law, Theresa Bell, of Tallahassee; grandsons, Tyler, Jarrod, Wesley and Roblee; and brother and sister-in-law, Bob and Johanna Bell of Mooresville, N.C.; nieces, Tamara and Andrea and nephew Robert.
A memorial service will be held at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Niceville on Dec. 21, 2013, at 11 a.m. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions be made to The Wounded Warriors Project.
Published in Northwest Florida Daily News on Dec. 19, 2013
This information was last updated 05/18/2016
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