Barksdale AFB mourns fallen EOD hero

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman La'Shanette V. Garrett
  • 2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs
Airmen and families here gathered to mourn the loss of a 2nd Civil Engineer Squadron explosive ordnance technician Jan. 20.

Senior Airman Bryan Bell, 23, was killed in action Jan. 5 by an improvised explosive device while performing his duties for Delta Company, 466th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit, in Shir Ghazi, Helmand province, Afghanistan.

During the memorial ceremony, Bell, a native of Erie, Pa., was described as a fun-loving, humorous, kind-hearted and courageous Airman who brightened up any room he walked in.

"Bryan was extremely proud of his job -- so much that he had the EOD badge tattooed on his arm," said 1st Lt. Chad Houge, the 2nd CES EOD flight commander. "He earned that badge. It wasn't given to him. He took his profession seriously and sought to be the best. Bryan was brave, and he put himself in harm's way for the safety of others. He will be missed, but never forgotten."

In a letter from Afghanistan, Senior Master Sgt. Christopher Schott, the 466th EOD flight chief, conveyed his condolences for Bell and two other EOD teammates who were also killed during the incident: Tech. Sgt. Matthew Schwartz, from F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo., and Airman 1st Class Mathew Seidler, from Peterson AFB, Colo.

"As you gather there at Barksdale to remember and honor my fallen comrade, I stand in remembrance with my family, 13,000 kilometers away, wishing nothing more than to be there," Schott wrote. "The loss of one of my own is devastating. I will never forget that fateful date and time. The loss of three of my brothers-in-arms in a single catastrophic incident is an unprecedented and inconceivable tragedy. Never, in my short 23-year career, have I imagined or experienced the hollowness and pain in my heart (that) I feel now. His loss rips through the core of my heart and soul as if he was my own flesh and blood."

The 2nd Bomb Wing commander also lamented on Barksdale's loss of an incredible Airman and American patriot.

"Our hearts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Senior Airman Bryan Bell," said Col. Tim Fay, the 2nd BW commander. "Bryan made the ultimate sacrifice for our nation. He is a true hero who will be sorely missed and always remembered."

Bell was laid to rest Jan. 16 in Wintergreen George Cemetery, Erie County, Pa., with full military honors, which included a 21-gun salute and a B-52H Stratofortress flyover. He deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan to support operations New Dawn and Enduring Freedom and was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star Medal with valor, Purple Heart, Air Force Commendation Medal and Air Force Combat Action Medal.