MCCORMICK, S.C. (WSPA) – “It was an awful experience…” said Albert Bell, as he choked back tears describing his deployment to Vietnam as a Marine veteran.
“I had four brothers who got drafted into the Army, including my twin brother,” he shared.
Bell said he knew he’d be next.
“So we decided we’ll enlist in the Marine Corps, volunteer for the draft,” said Bell.
It was a theme in the Bell family.
“I’ve got six brothers. My oldest brother went into the Air Force and then the next four brothers got drafted into the Army,” Bell told 7 NEWS.
Two of them— according to Bell, also deployed to Vietnam.
“Upon graduating from boot camp while we’re still in Parris Island, they call us and read all our M.O.S. (Military Occupational Specialities) and orders,” Bell said. “So when they read me, it was Infantry O-300 June replacement, Vietnam.:
Bell said that was terrible news.
“That was one of the worst nights as I knew where I was going to be the next day,” he explained. “We were meeting guys coming from Vietnam and we could see that and what they had been through.”
Bell said he lives with chronic P.T.S.D. from the events he endured while deployed, being ambushed and seeing bodies.
“I heard that bomb go off but it sounded like it was gonna hit me in my back…” he said. “It was directly like it was coming to me. [It] Went over my head less than 10 feet hit the ground and didn’t go off…” Bell said. “If that bomb went off I’d been dead and buried.”
But instead, Bell made it out alive.
13 months later, he was honorably discharged.
Bell received five medals and ribbons for his service and said even though the war is over, his trauma has never ended.
“I remember one of the instructors told us that you can never go home again,” Bell said. “You can go to the place where you usually go home again, but I didn’t understand. But I found out when I got back home.”
Bell said rehashing what he experienced is tough.
“When I came back from Vietnam I started dating my wife that I was previous formerly married to,” he said. “I took her on a date, then I started talking about Vietnam and I started crying and I just could not quit.”
Bell said it took years before he could handle the conversation and to this day finds himself getting emotional.
“I accepted the Lord in my life and then he called me to preach,” Bell explained. “So I’ve been pastoring all that time and in ’82 I started a non-denominational church and my wife was my co-pastor. Four children, my three oldest children are ministers.”
Bell said he is grateful to be one of the few here today to talk about it.
“It’s a real blessing for me to be here to talk to you 50 years after,” said Bell.
He said he owes it to his current wife, Carolyn, his late wife, family and friends, and faith for getting him through his hardships.
Albert Bell, Thank You for Your Service.
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