Rank and organization: Technical Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company I, 142d
Infantry, 36th Infantry Division.
Place and date: Mittelwihr, France, 18
Entered service at: New York, N.Y.
Birth: Grantsville, W.
G.O. No.: 73, 30 August 1945.
Citation: For fighting gallantly at Mittelwihr,
France. On the morning of 18 December 1944, he led a squad against a schoolhouse
held by enemy troops. While his men covered him, he dashed toward the building,
surprised 2 guards at the door and took them prisoner without firing a
shot. He found that other Germans were in the cellar. These he threatened
with hand grenades, forcing 26 in all to emerge and surrender. His squad
then occupied the building and prepared to defend it against powerful enemy
action. The next day, the enemy poured artillery and mortar barrages into
the position, disrupting communications which T/Sgt. Bell repeatedly repaired
under heavy small-arms fire as he crossed dangerous terrain to keep his
company commander informed of the squad's situation. During the day, several
prisoners were taken and other Germans killed when hostile forces were
attracted to the schoolhouse by the sound of captured German weapons fired
by the Americans. At dawn the next day the enemy prepared to assault the
building. A German tank fired round after round into the structure, partially
demolishing the upper stories. Despite this heavy fire, T/Sgt. Bell climbed
to the second floor and directed artillery fire which forced the hostile
tank to withdraw. He then adjusted mortar fire on large forces of enemy
foot soldiers attempting to reach the American position and, when this
force broke and attempted to retire, he directed deadly machinegun and
rifle fire into their disorganized ranks. Calling for armored support to
blast out the German troops hidden behind a wall, he unhesitatingly exposed
himself to heavy small-arms fire to stand beside a friendly tank and tell
its occupants where to rip holes in walls protecting approaches to the
school building. He then trained machineguns on the gaps and mowed down
all hostile troops attempting to cross the openings to get closer to the
school building. By his intrepidity and bold, aggressive leadership, T/Sgt.
Bell enabled his 8-man squad to drive back approximately 150 of the enemy,
killing at least 87 and capturing 42. Personally, he killed more than 20
and captured 33 prisoners.
This data was extracted from the Committee on Veterans' Affairs, U.S. Senate, Medal of Honor Recipients: 1863-1973 (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1973)